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Demonstrating that being bereft of compassion doesn’t leave you humourless as well, British Columbia’s ruling Liberals voted themselves a 15 per cent pay increase last week.

“Last week’s 15 per cent wage hike will seem very poignant to our members who, by legislative fiat, had their pay cheques slashed by the very same amount last year,” said HEU secretary-business manager Judy Darcy.

“We’ll take this move by MLAs as an indication that health care workers will also be treated in a fair and equitable manner when they and other public sector workers head to the bargaining table in the next few months,” she said.

In April, 2004, the BC government through an act of the legislature slashed the wages of nearly 40,000 HEU members by 15 per cent.

The wage cut affects a wide range of workers including licensed practical nurses, trades workers, cardiology technologists, operating room booking clerks, lab assistants, care aides, pharmacy technicians, patient records clerks and many others.

The contract covering these workers expires on March 31, 2006, the day before the MLA pay hike goes into effect.

After supporting the Bill that would have enacted the salary hikes, BC NDP leader Carol James asked the government to delay implementing the increases until an independent public review could take place.