About 160 Smithers members of the Hospital Employees’ Union and the BC Government Employees’ Union are set to take a strike vote in a bid to end their contract stalemate with the province.
One of the main sticking points in the negotiation is 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.
The Facilities Bargaining Association represents 11 unions and about 47,000 employees across B.C. The Hospital Employees’ Union represents about 85 per cent of those employees.
A strike vote will be scheduled in the next few days, said Mike Old, HEU communications director, and will not take place before mid-April.
There are about 70 HEU members employed at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital and 90 BCGEU members working at the Bulkley Lodge. Their roles are varied and include ambulance paramedics, maintenance workers, administrative and cleaning staff and IT specialists.
The current collective agreement expires March 31.