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HEU asks privacy commissioner to force health authority to make public details of private laundry contract

Forty-seven laundry workers at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver are being issued pink slips in the second round of privatization-related lay offs in the Vancouver-area in a week, says the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE).

The news comes as the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority prepares to transfer responsibility for its laundry services at Lions Gate and Vancouver General hospitals to American-owned K-Bro Linen Systems starting in August.

HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt says it’s all part of the B.C. Liberals’ plan to break up the health care team and sell off critical hospital services to low-wage private contractors.

“The result will be less accountability for the laundry service and more red tape and bureaucracy as the health authority puts mechanisms in place to monitor the performance of private contractors,” says Allnutt.

HEU has requested details of the K-Bro contract under access to information legislation but the VCHA has failed to disclose this information to date. The union launched a formal appeal today with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Commissioner to force public disclosure by the health authority.

But some financial details of the contract are emerging. K-Bro management representatives have told hospital workers at recruitment meetings that it will cut wages in half to $9.50 an hour and require workers to put in 10-hour shifts over a four-day work week at their soon-to-be-opened Burnaby facility.

Last week, 500 cleaning and dietary staff at B.C. Children’s and Women’s Health Centre and the B.C. Cancer Agency received their lay off notices.


Mike Old, communications officer, 604-828-6771 (cell)