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More than 130 unionized staff to be fired but 70 per cent of their managers stay on payroll.

The Fraser Health Authority must make public the details of a five-year, $16.6 million contract awarded to Toronto-based multinational Intercon Security Ltd., says the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE).

“Given the potential risks to patients and health care workers that come with contracting out hospital security, the public deserves to know the specifics of the deal and how this company will be held to account,” says HEU spokesperson Zorica Bosancic.

“It’s not good enough for the health authority to issue assurances that all will be well without providing some tangible evidence of the standards and enforcement mechanisms contained in the contract,” she adds.

“What staffing levels and wages will be provided? What service levels have been agreed to, and at what cost? How will the FHA ensure that new privatized guards will be trained to deal with the unique protection needs of a hospital environment?”

The health authority’s entire unionized security service of more than 130 skilled and experienced staff will be laid off at nine hospitals. But 70 per cent of hospital security managers will keep their jobs in the interests of “managing the contract” resulting in more red tape and bureaucracy, warns Bosancic.

HEU is also warning the FHA that an arm’s length relationship with a private security contractor cannot shield it from liability for any failure to protect patients and health care workers.

“Our recent brush with SARS and growing concerns about hospital security should have given the FHA reason to take a second look at the advisability of breaking up the health care team,” says Bosancic. “Instead the FHA has chosen to feed this government’s insatiable appetite for health care privatization.”

While Intercon Security has no background in health care in this province, the company is no stranger to the B.C. Employment Standards Branch. In 2001, an Employment Standards Tribunal fined the company $500 for its failure to keep proper employee records. The tribunal also referenced a four-page appendix with “dozens of complaint investigations and variance requests” in its reasons for levying the penalty.

It’s expected that all unionized security officers will be replaced by Intercon Security staff in the fall.

Contact Mike Old, communication officer, 604-828-6771 (cell)