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HEU starts negotiations with the BC government today on how to undo the damage caused when five years ago Gordon Campbell’s liberals gutted the union’s bargaining rights.

I expect that we have some tough negotiations ahead of us,” says HEU secretary-business manager Judy Darcy. “But we also have an important opportunity to find solutions that both respect our members’ fundamental rights and strengthen health care for all British Columbians.”

On June 8, the Supreme Court struck down parts of Bill 29, the law the BC government passed that forced health sector employers to contract-out food, cleaning and maintenance services.

The court ruled that three sections of the 2002 contract-breaking legislation violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court gave the government a year to work something out with the affected unions.

The talks will continue at least until the end of 2007.

Meanwhile, health authorities and their affiliates have agreed there will be no involuntary layoffs as a result of contracting out at facilities covered by the collective agreement.

This includes the layoff of 66 positions at MSA Hospital in Abbotsford.

But government representatives said that they will not halt layoffs related to the flipping of commercial contracts in long-term care.