May 27, 2015 - 4:38 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Hospital Employee Union members who filled the Interior Health Authority board meeting yesterday to show their concern about laundry service privatization got a polite but firm message from chairman Erwin Malzer.
“Thank you very much for bringing your concerns to us but no decision will be made until we receive the request for proposals,” he told the union delegation.
According to Alan Davie, regional director of support services, those proposals could come as early as this week, although there is also a review period where proponents can request more information, meaning a final decision by the board is unlikely before mid-July.
A two-person delegation, backed up by roughly two dozen supporters, reiterated their case to keep laundry service in house. At stake for the union is 168 laundry service positions, both full and part-time at sites across the health authority which are paid between $18 and $19.75 an hour.
Davie confirmed the union’s contention that worker competency is not the issue but rather the $10.5 million cost of replacing equipment over the next 10 to 15 years.
“Our staff have been very productive so this is not about their efficiency. It’s primarily about future planning around capital equipment,” he added. “This is the challenge we are facing as dollars get tighter and requests for new equipment comes from all sides.”
Davie said if the privatization goes ahead, the people who lose their positions can likely find something new with the health authority either through bumping or moving to dietary or housekeeping. He said support services hire about 100 new staff a year.
“It’s safe to say that anyone who wants to work with the IHA can continue to do so,” he added.
Tuesday’s presentation to the board was the latest in a series of actions staged by the union as it fights to prevent the privatization.
The union is claiming the support of over 12,400 residents from the health authority's service area who signed a petition opposing the move. As well, the union is claiming support from some city councils including Vernon, Kamloops and 100 Mile House.
“Williams Lake voted just last night to support us,” said Mike Old, communications director for the union. Old could not produce all the letters but did provide one signed by Vernon mayor Akbal Mund that focused on the environmental impact of shipping laundry to a facility outside the area.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015