Multinational corporations, health authorities and the provincial government are conspiring to deprive unionized health care workers of their rights according to an unfair labour practices complaint filed by the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) and the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union.
The complaint comes on the heels of the release last Friday of legally taped conversations with corporate representatives that suggest that the government’s health privatization plans include blacklisting thousands of HEU members.
Representatives of Sodexho and another firm, believed to be K-Bro, contacted BCGEU trying to reach a sweetheart deal that would see workers hired at near-minimum wages to do contracted out work, while keeping HEU and its members out of the workplace.
National President Judy Darcy condemned the unscrupulous tactics of Sodexho and other corporations that would target union members in their quest to turn public services into a source of quick profits.
Praising the key role played by BCGEU, Darcy said, “We stand together with integrity and in solidarity to repudiate the tactics of the corporations involved and denounce the policies of the BC government that have given rise to these acts.”
The two unions have asked the Labour Relations Board to put the brakes on health privatization schemes pending a hearing into their complaint during which they intend to subpoena witnesses from corporations like Sodexho and top executives from BC’s health authorities.
“The Campbell Liberals are clearly putting corporate profits ahead of patient care and front-line health care workers,” says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt. “But it appears that multinational corporations and the health authorities have also been given a green light to undermine the fundamental rights of workers to organize with the union of their choice and to engage in free collective bargaining.”
“There appears to us to be a foul conspiracy between multinational corporations, health authorities and our government to fire and blacklist long-term, experienced health care workers, most of whom are women,” says BCGEU president George Heyman. “Their over-riding goal is corporate profit. Our goal is quality patient care and fair treatment for workers. There will be no labour peace in BC while workers are threatened with removal of their most basic rights.”
HEU has also called for a government inquiry to determine whether BC rules governing the tendering of public services may have been violated.