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The Columbia Journal
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Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Phone: 604-266-6552
Fax: 604-267-3342

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  • Volume Eight, Number Seven: October 2003

    Comox Hospital Workers Beat Privatization Rap



    Health care workers at Joseph's General Hospital in Comox have voted 65 per cent in favour of a landmark agreement that will save more than 400 jobs.

     

    In exchange for concessions, the Hospital employees Union’s Comox local and the hospital’s bosses hammered out a deal that will automatically reinstate HEU members' current wage rates and other contract provisions if jobs are contracted out during the term of the agreement.

     

    The memorandum of agreement, ratified Thursday after extensive discussions with hospital management, is in effect until March 31, 2004 and continues until a new provincial contract is negotiated.

     

    HEU local chairperson Bonnie McGlashan says her members agreed to significant concessions in order to prevent privatization and to retain the skilled and experienced workers at the hospital.

     

    "HEU members have acted in solidarity in defence of workers under immediate threat and in defence of public health care," says McGlashan, a front desk receptionist at the hospital. "In the face of a government that rips up legal contracts, we have taken this action together so that we can continue the battle together."

     

    Under the agreement, workers providing support services, such as laundry, housekeeping, food services and maintenance, take an immediate wage roll-back of $1.92 an hour. The hourly wage for direct care is reduced by 20 cents an hour, and wages for all other classifications are rolled back by 40 cents an hour.

    Workers will also pay back wage and pay equity adjustments that came into effect earlier this year, give up three days of annual vacation and work a longer work week.

     

    In return, the hospital management, which told the union that they have no intention to contract out HEU jobs once the agreement is in place, has agreed to immediately reinstate 2003 wage rates and all other concessions if they serve notice to contract out any HEU jobs.

     

    The hospital had already obtained proposals from private companies to provide housekeeping, laundry and security services but sealed the bids pending negotiations with the union.

     



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