Breaking: HEU workers rally tomorrow to stop mass layoffs

These Pinay workers will lose their jobs at two care homes for joining a union. (photo: HEU Facebook)

Coquitlam, B.C.

Updated: 7:05 AM, July 8, 2018

“It’s union busting” says HEU

By Ted Alcuitas

About 150 workers, mostly Filipinos, will lose their jobs at two Coquitlam care homes this September.

The workers are holding a rally tomorrow, Sunday (July 8) at Como Lake Park in Coquitlam from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. to call for the government to stop the layoffs.

“This is union busting at the most basic level, and it’s hurting vulnerable seniors who depend on their familiar care staff, ” says Jennifer Whiteside of the Health Employees Union (HEU) in a press release.

“The reality is, workers at these two facilities exercised their right to join a union – and now they are without jobs,” says Whiteside.

About 150 staff were told they would lose their jobs at the privately-owned, publicly-funded Lakeshore and Madison care centres, leaving nearly 200 seniors without their familiar and trusted caregivers.

The facilities’ owner is switching or “flipping” subcontractors, resulting in the layoff of care aides, LPNs, activity workers, housekeepers and food service workers.

In early May, over 100 staff at Madison and Lakeshore care homes in Coquitlam voted to join the Hospital Employees’ Union. Three weeks later, they received layoff notices.

In addition, 50 housekeeping and dietary workers who were in the middle of an organizing drive at the same facilities were also laid off.

“In the midst of a province-wide seniors’ care staffing crisis we have a situation where the owner of the two facilities is choosing to fire all of the staff instead of keeping them on despite the change of contractor,” adds Whiteside.

The workers at the Madison and Lakeshore care centres, both privately owned by The Care Group, learned that they were being laid off by their respective subcontractors, CD Nurturing Care and Comforting Care.

Premier John Horgan (left) and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health announcing the opening of a new hospital. (FB photo)

Mike Old, a spokesperson for the HEU, said the official explanation provided to laid-off staff pointed to the decision made by Carmen del Maestro, the owner of the companies contracted out by The Care Group, to retire from the business. But although that is the stated reason for the mass layoff, Old said the HEU has encountered similar situations in which contracts were terminated in order to prevent staff from unionizing or forming collective agreements.

Large-scale staff turnover due to contracting out and contract flipping has been endemic in the long-term care sector. Legislation facilitating these practices was brought in by the former BC Liberal government over the past 16 years.

Whiteside says it’s time for the BCNDP to honour its campaign promise to “support relationship-based care, and ensure those care relationships are not disrupted by contracting out or contract flipping.”

For more information, please contact:
Sara Rozell, HEU communications officer 604-209-3861 (cell), 604-456-7161 (direct)

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