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Hospital workers rally at Royal Columbian
The behind-the-scenes workers responsible for making and delivering food and cleaning up rooms at local hospitals stepped out of the back corridors last Thursday to let the public know about their labour dispute with their employer, Aramark.
Members of the Hospital Employees’ Union from Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH), Burnaby Hospital and Eagle Ridge Hospital rallied in front of RCH during their lunch break to hand out pamphlets and bolster morale as they take strike votes, the results of which will be announced Oct. 3.
Neil Monckton of the HEU said the 4,400 support staff at dozens of hospitals in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast have been without a contract for a year, and they’ve received no wage increase for two years.
Monckton said staffing cuts over recent years have reduced the workforce by almost half. Many of them are women and recent immigrants.
“We can’t keep up with the work,” said Monckton, adding many of the workers are already paid less than unionized hotel workers.
If the workers do return a strike mandate and elect to exercise it, they’ll still have to maintain essential service levels.
That will further increase the strain on services, said Monckton.