CUPE National President Paul Moist was in Abbotsford last weekend to give a boost to HEU members on strike against french multinational Sodexho.
At stake in the six week old strike are the livelihoods of about 1,500 food service and house keeping workers at 36 hospitals and other facilities across southern British Columbia.
But because of BC’s remarkably restrictive essential services legislation, only those workers in retail food services are allowed to strike.
HEU is bargaining with Sodexho for the first time since 2003, when the giant services corporation won $400 million in contracts from the provincial government to do food, cleaning and support services in hospitals and care facilities.
After the government contracted out the work, about 8,000 HEU members were fired. Sodexho, and other multinationals, signed sweetheart deals with an IWA local which gave the union the right to represent the workers in exchange for substandard wages and working conditions.
HEU challenged these agreements and in many cases, the labour board cancelled these deals and ordered representation votes. After all the dust had settled, more than 3300 Compass, Aramark and Sodexho workers voted to join HEU.
While the workers got their choice of unions, they didn’t get their choice of wages.
Nine out of ten Sodexho workers earn just $10.15 per hour, while the corporation had global revenues of $17 billion last year.