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The Hospital Employees Union has launched a world-wide appeal for help in its bargaining with French multinational Sodexho.

HEU, CUPE’s BC Health Services Division, organized about 1,400 Sodexho workers after the provincial government paved the way for large-scale contracting out of cleaning and food services at hospitals and long-term care facilities with a law that re-wrote HEU collective agreements.

Since the BC government passed its law, HEU has organized more than 3,400 people working for private companies like Sodexho.

But there’s a long way to go. A Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Study found:

  • 90 per cent of Sodexho workers earn $10.15 an hour. For a worker with two children that’s $10,000 below Statistics Canada’s poverty line.
  • over 40 per cent have at least one other job and most are looking for additional work
  • nearly 50 per cent intend to leave their jobs within six months
  • exhaustion, illness and injury was widespread – over 60 per cent fell sick or were hurt on the job, and
  • with no job security and minimal sick time, more than half came to work unwell.

HEU, in cooperation with LabourStart has launched an online campaign to pressure Sodexho’s Paris-based top executive Michel Landel to give its workers a fair contract and a decent wage.

Just in case he doesn’t agree, the workers recently gave HEU a 96 per cent strike mandate.