HEU and BCGEU to vote later this month

About 200 Bulkley Valley residents will take part in strike vote

A strike vote will happen later this month for about 47,000 B.C. workers involved in contract negotiations with the province’s health employers.

The strike vote is expected to take place between April 22 and 30, HEU communications officer Mike Old said, but a specific date for Bulkley Valley union members has not been set at this time.

“We’re just ironing out those details this week and next,” he said.

The HEU has about 70 members employed at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital and 40 at Wrinch Memorial Hospital in Hazelton.

The BCGEU has 90 members working at the Bulkley Lodge.

The union members’ roles are varied and include ambulance paramedics, maintenance workers, administrative and cleaning staff, activity aides and rehab assistants, dietary staff and IT specialists.

One of the main sticking points in the negotiation is job security and the contracting out of union member jobs, said Bonnie Pearson, Facilities Bargaining Association chief negotiator.

“Health employers’ demands for more contracting out will cause uncertainty and instability in our hospitals, care facilities and in the community,” Pearson said in a HEU news release, adding the move would open up health care for further privatization.

Pearson said health employers are refusing to take steps to improve health and safety in the province’s most dangerous workplaces.

They’ve also rejected proposals to improve health service delivery by expanding roles for B.C.’s paramedics, she said.

The Facilities Bargaining Association represents 11 unions across B.C.

The Hospital Employees’ Union represents about 85 per cent of those employees.

BCGEU president Darryl Walker urged his members in a press release last week to support their bargaining committee by giving them a clear strike mandate.

“We need a strong show of unity from members to protect members’ jobs and benefits and to ensure safer workplaces,” he said.

The workers’ current agreement expired on March 31.