“Mr. Thibeault and the Liberals are hardened to the plight of hospital laundry staff who are mostly women and who won’t have jobs because of the decisions of their government. It is pretty cynical to announce more than $9 million for jobs in other sectors to distract from the Liberal’s political woes in Sudbury and the fact that all that is needed to keep the 36 Sudbury hospital laundry staff working is $500,000,” says Michael Hurley the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
The millions of dollars for “private” business interests came the morning after the hospital laundry workers rallied at Mr. Thibeault’s office asking him (for the second time) to intervene with his government so their jobs would not be cut. The rally followed a meeting with Health Sciences North (HSN) where hospital board members blamed Mr.Thibeault’s Liberals for coercing them to sever the contract with the local hospital laundry and take their linen business to southern Ontario.
“I can’t tell you how hurtful it is to us to stand in the cold, outside Mr. Thibeault’s office and have him ignore our appeal for help — help that would cost just half a million dollars. He can find nearly $10 million for what will be, in large part, new jobs for men. But to keep the women working at the Sudbury laundry, many of us single parents, nothing at all, not even a response. It is demeaning for us. We are asking the Premier to look at what’s happening here to female workers and intervene,” says Nicole Mallette who has worked at the hospital laundry for nearly 30 years.
HSN owns Sudbury Hospital Services (SHS). For nearly four-decades SHS has laundered hospital linens. Although the hospital laundry may be trucked 900 km round-trip to Hamilton, last week SHS was given the go-ahead to bid on local emergency services laundry.
“So there has been a change of heart and a decision that SHS can continue to operate. But the hospital won’t support its own company (SHS) and is doing the bidding of the province by shipping its business elsewhere. The big question is why isn’t the government investing to keep these hospital laundry jobs in the north?” Asks Hurley.
OCHU the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) which represents the hospital laundry staff will soon release the results of a poll that asks Sudburians their opinion on whether they support HSN’s decision to take the hospital laundry business south. It also probes expectations of what they want the local MPP to do.