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Winnipeg – CUPE, Manitoba’s largest health care support workers’ union, says decent wages and benefits for their 10,000 members who work in hospitals, health care facilities, long term care homes and community clinics is long overdue.

Health care support workers are the backbone of the health care system. Whether it’s getting a patient bathed and fed, transporting them from one area to another, ensuring medical records are up to date or handling medical waste, support workers are the pillars – the foundation that the system depends on,” says Lorraine Sigurdson, CUPE’s Health Care Coordinator. “Their work is important and they deserve decent wages and benefits.”

CUPE members have spent the last two days in their first round of negotiations meetings. The workers present contract runs to April 30th. Sigurdson says a wage increase of 7% over the last three years didn’t make up for years of rollbacks and cutbacks under the former Filmon government. This is the first time health care support workers are negotiating with an NDP government since 1988.

Our members feel recognition where it counts in their paycheques is long overdue,” says Marlene Tartsch, chair of CUPE’s Provincial Health Care Council. “With the nurses’ wage discussions in the news, they’re concerned that once again their needs will be sacrificed.”

The average wage for CUPE health care support workers is about $13 an hour.

Other negotiations issues include money to finish wage standardization across the province, a task started in the last contract, plus workload and overtime.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than a half-million women and men across the country. In Manitoba, CUPE represents 24,000 members in health care, education, municipalities, social services, utilities, libraries and emergency services.

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For more information, please contact:

Lorraine Sigurdson, CUPE Health Care Coordinator,
Cell: (204) 981-6499
Marlene Tartsch, Chair CUPE Provincial Health Care Council, Cell: (204) 794-6817