Hundreds of hospital workers, members of CUPE Local 4000, attended a meeting last Wednesday night, vowing to stop the contracting out of vital services by the Ottawa Hospital.
“If management at the Ottawa Hospital thinks they can sell off our hospitals one service at a time, then they are in for very big surprise,” said CUPE National President Judy Darcy. “We call that privatization by stealth and CUPE members will fight it every step of the way.”
The Ottawa Hospital has put out requests for proposals as part of its plan to contract out laundry, nutrition, housekeeping and maintenance services. Members of Local 4000, who provide these services, voiced their anger and determination to stop the door to privatization from being opened.
“The work we do is critical to the functioning of the Ottawa Hospital and to the quality of care,” said local president Mike Lajeunesse. “We may often feel like we are invisible, but we will certainly not be silent in the coming months. The people of Ottawa don’t want their hospital privatized and our members are not going to let that happen.”
In Hamilton, CUPE hospital workers are facing a similar threat after administrators decided to contract out housekeeping services at all Hamilton Health Sciences locations to Sodexho Marriott, a private company with a dangerously soiled reputation.
In Britain, Sodexho is linked to exploiting asylum seekers by employing them as cooks and cleaners at well below the minimum wage, and with failing to deliver decent housekeeping services at Glasgow’s largest hospital.
“Bloodied linens left in public areas of the hospital and untrained, low-paid staff who clean toilets and then serve food are the hallmarks of this company at the Glasgow hospital,” says CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan
The contracting out will have an immediate impact on the jobs of 20 unionized housekeeping staff at Chedoke hospital.
“Unless the community tell the hospital their health and safety is too important to hand over to a multinational corporation interested only in making profits, the outsourcing will spread to other hospitals and eliminate the jobs of qualified, well-trained and committed staff,” says Mike Walters, president of CUPE Local 4800, representing housekeeping staff at Hamilton hospitals.