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HEU refuses to exclude housekeeping and food services from meeting's agenda

ON OCTOBER 1, the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) agreed to meet with HEU to discuss alternatives to current service delivery, but specified that it is not open to including the contracting-out of food and housekeeping services in those discussions.

HEU's secretary business-manager Chris Allnutt calls VIHA's attempt to limit the meeting's agenda unproductive, but says it will not stop the union from entering into an initial talk with authority representatives.

“We have told VIHA that we are interested in meeting,” says Allnutt, “and that we have every intention of talking about alternatives for all service areas, including dietary and housekeeping.”

Allnutt says it is not acceptable for VIHA to proceed with contracting-out plans that will undermine the quality of patient care and throw the lives of hundreds of workers and their families into chaos when alternative solutions are possible.

The health authority issued a Request for Proposals for housekeeping and food services in south island hospitals in early June. More than 1000 skilled and experienced front-line workers, most of them women, stand to lose their jobs unless VIHA is willing to consider other options.