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The Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) is challenging a cozy deal between a private health care multinational and a rogue local of the International Woodworkers of America at the BC Labour Relations Board. The deal blasts wages and working conditions for women health care workers back to the 1960s.

HEU has filed unfair labour practice charges against Compass Group Ltd. and the IWA Local 3567. HEU is demanding the Labour Relations Board overturn the cut-rate contract and rule that a series of questionable arrangements between the union and the company are illegal.

The controversial deal cuts wages almost in half to $9.50 per hour for housekeeping, laundry and food service workers working for Compass at Vancouver General Hospital. It also eliminates almost all benefits and basic workplace protections, and creates mechanisms that deny current HEU members the opportunity to continue working if their jobs are privatized.

Although the concessions deal applies to only a small number of workers now, the IWA local is relying on the provisions of Bill 29 the Campbell government’s contract breaking legislation to extend the deal so that it automatically applies across the entire Vancouver Coastal Health Authority for all health employees except RNs if Compass wins other lucrative privatization contracts.

“This raw deal lays bare the real agenda behind the Campbell Liberals’ contract-breaking vandalism,” says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt. “This so-called contract rolls real wage rates back 35 years when ’maids’ at Vancouver Hospital were paid $1.86 an hour. It decimates the progress we’ve made in areas like pay equity for women and improved working conditions for those who deliver critical health care support services on the front lines.”

With CUPE’s support, HEU is also pressing the Canadian Labour Congress to impose tough sanctions on the IWA local.

Additional information can be found at heu.org.