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HEU seeks urgent LRB order to forestall implementation of health cuts, closures

As part of its fight to protect health care services for British Columbians and jobs for health care workers, the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) is seeking a Labour Relations Board order that would effectively stall the Campbell government’s plans for massive health care cuts and layoffs.

It’s a move that union spokesperson Chris Allnutt says “would block health employers’ hasty efforts to close long-term care facilities like Moberly Manor in Revelstoke and prevent seniors from being uprooted from their homes.”

And the HEU leader says it will also force Victoria and health employers to lay all their cards on the table and force them to disclose to HEU and the public the full details of their cutbacks plan.

In its submission to the board, HEU argues that B.C. health authorities are in violation of the labour code because they failed to give required notice of their intention to embark on wholesale layoffs, and elimination of services cuts. Section 54 of the code holds that employers must give at least 60 days notice before finalizing any change that affects the “terms, conditions or security of employment” of large numbers of employees.

Allnutt says that employers have just begun to provide that notice in the aftermath of last Tuesday’s carefully orchestrated government press conference where only sketchy details of the cuts and closures were outlined. But he argues that the law mandates health bosses to provide that notice much sooner.

“Sixty-day notice must be given the moment an employer is reasonably certain that it will proceed with wholesale changes affecting significant numbers of employees,” Allnutt says.

“Clearly, a number of leaked documents made public by HEU show the Campbell government and health employers were ’reasonably certain’ that they would proceed with massive cuts much earlier in the year. But they failed to meet their legal obligation to provide required notice at that time.”