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HEU members who lost their jobs when the BC government gutted their collective agreements in 2002 will get access to more than $75 million in compensation and training under a deal negotiated with the province.

In January 2002 the BC government passed Bill 29, which legislated away HEU’s contractual protection against contracting out and forced its hospitals to contract out cleaning, food and laundry services.

More than 9,000 health care workers lost their jobs. Unions whose members lost their jobs took the province to court.

In June 2007, the Supreme Court struck down parts of Bill 29, ruling that the BC government violated the union members’ Charter-guaranteed right to freedom of association.

The ruling gave the government until June 2008 to change the law so that it conformed to the Charter.

Highlights of the tentative settlement, reached with all health care unions whose members were affected by the law:

  • $70 million in compensation to health care workers affected by Bill 29 in the past (including $2 million for retraining)
  • $5 million to retrain workers laid off as a result of contracting out in the future
  • workers whose jobs are contracted out can apply for vacancies in health authorities throughout the province
  • health authorities must consult the unions on plans to contract out services or retender contracted out services. Bill 29 had prohibited consultations on contracting out.
  • Limits on the number of jobs that can be contracted out. The “cap” negotiated in 2006 is maintained. Violations can now be grieved under the normal arbitration process.
  • The government shall remove other legislative restrictions on collective bargaining that are inconsistent with the agreement

“Our members have been struggling for six long years to regain rights that were stripped away by the B.C. legislature,” said Hospital Employees Union secretary-business manager Judy Darcy. “This agreement delivers long overdue justice to those whose rights were trampled by Bill 29.