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More than 600 Hospital Employees’ Union members from every corner of BC delivered a message of defiance to employers and their provincial government on October 8. In a day marked by marches, occupations and rallies across Vancouver and Richmond, health care workers demonstrated that the Campbell Liberal’s reckless agenda of privatization, cuts to health services and attacks on seniors and workers will be resisted every step of the way.

The day of action started with an occupation of the Children’s and Women’s Hospital cafeteria to show support for HEU members who are facing down an employer that’s aggressively privatizing critical health services. Union Secretary-Business Manager Chris Allnutt warned health bosses that HEU was drawing a ‘line in the sand,’ pledging that members will continue to vigorously defend public health services and jobs.

HEU President Fred Muzin and Financial Secretary Mary Laplante paid tribute to members who’ve been disciplined over the last few months for speaking out and acting against contracting out. Afterward, demonstrators left their calling card – union shop window decals – on an outpatient facility where the hospital has already contracted out cleaning services to corporate giant Aramark.

The high energy demonstration then moved to Point Grey Private Hospital where a hard-line employer has already replaced housekeeping, laundry and food service staff with low-waged contract workers. The hospital has now given notice to two dozen care aides – some who’ve been at the facility for more than 20 years – that they face the same fate.

The front-line health and social service workers were in Richmond for the HEU biennial convention, the first held since the election of the Liberal BC government.