Lethbridge Housekeepers at the Lethbridge Hospital have voted 85 per cent in favour of strike action in order to gain decent wages and benefits. The employees are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 408 and employed by Sodexho MS Canada Ltd., a private contractor with the hospital.
The main issue in this dispute is fairness, said CUPE 408 President, Kevin Dragland. We are just looking for the same wages, benefits and working conditions as other employees in the health region performing the same service.
The members of CUPE 408 ensure that the hospital is kept to the highest sanitary conditions including the cleaning and preparation of surgical facilities and all patient areas.
We need everyone to recognize the importance of these employees to the overall health care system. There is a growing tendency to dismiss their importance and that is reflected in their low wages, said Dragland.
These CUPE members earn between $7.50 and $8.74 per hour. Since the vote last week, Local 408 has approached the employer with a proposal for additional meetings before the union decides to issue a strike notice. Under Alberta Labour Law a 72-hour notice is required before strike action can take place.
With this very strong strike mandate we are waiting for a response from the employer to our latest proposal. Their response will determine when we take strike action. These employees are determined to win the respect and recognition they deserve for what is an essential service to the health care system, said Dragland.
In addition to the employees with Sodexho, CUPE Local 408 represents health care workers at the Lethbridge Hospital, St Michaels Health Centre and Extendicare.
CUPE is Canada’s largest union with over half a million women and men who provide public services. In Alberta, CUPEs 31,000 members work in health care, municipalities, schools, colleges, universities, libraries, emergency medical services, social services and casinos. Visit our CUPE website for more information www.cupealberta.ab.ca
For further information:
Pam Beattie CUPE Communications
(780) 484-7644 or (780) 288-1230 (cellular)
Kevin Dragland CUPE 408 president