Laundry workers at KGH work their last shift for Interior Health | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Laundry workers at KGH work their last shift for Interior Health

FILE PHOTO: Laundry workers rally in front of Kelowna General Hospital as part of a series of rallies across the Interior Health Authority protesting laundry privatization Feb. 29, 2016.
June 15, 2017 - 11:31 AM

KELOWNA - Today will be the last day Interior Health Authority employees will be washing and folding the laundry at Kelowna General Hospital.

The 29 laundry workers are working their final shift today, June 15, according to a media release from the Hospital Employees’ Union, after the Interior Health Authority decided to contract the work out to a private company.

Laundry work in Kamloops, Nelson, Penticton and Vernon will be done by Ecotex Linen Services soon.

The March 2016 decision was controversial because it eliminated more than 100 positions in the Southern Interior. The contract with Ecotex is $286 million over 20 years, the HEU says.

The Health Authority has previously said it will save $35 million over the lifetime of the 20 year contract by privatizing the service.

Laundry services in some smaller communities will remain with the Health Authority, including Lillooet, Williams Lake and Ashcroft.

The decision to hire a private contractor inspired protests and rallies while the Health Authority delayed its decision. Kamloops city council sent a letter to the Health Authority in solidarity with the workers.

The union says workers were making between $18.68 and $21.26 and hour, while Ecotex is advertising jobs starting at $11.50. Efforts were made to retrain some laundry employees and move them to new positions, but the union says 34 people will be unemployed.

Find past stories on the Interior Health laundry privatization here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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