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Laundry workers lose privatization fight with Interior Health

Interior Health Authority laundry workers rally outside the office of MLA Steve Thompson in Kelowna.
March 01, 2016 - 3:17 PM

THOMPSON OKANAGAN - Laundry workers throughout the Interior Health Authority will soon lose their jobs to private contractors.

The health authority board of directors decided today, March 1, to go ahead with plans to contract out its in-house laundry service to Ecotex Healthcare Linens of Abbotsford though a 'centralized Kelowna-based facility' and say the move will cost 93 full-time equivalent positions.

Hospital Employee Union officials previously said the move affected 178 positions but in a press release Tuesday afternoon said the move affects 100 workers.

Ecotex already provides contract laundry services to the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health Authorities.

The 20-year agreement will leave small in-house laundry sites at facilities in Ashcroft, Lillooet, Golden, Princeton, 100 Mile House and Williams Lake.

The health authority has admitted in the past the level of service provided by the unionized workers was not the issue but rather the need to replace outdated equipment.

Union officials staged periodic rallies and protests in the affected communities for 16 months ahead of Tuesday’s decision and claimed support from various municipal councils in addition to 12,000 people who signed a petition last year.

Secretary-treasurer Jennifer Whiteside critized the move as short-sighted and dismissive of the quality work provided by their members.

The change to contracted laundry services is expected to be complete by summer 2017, the health authority says. It expects to save $35 million over the life of the contract.

For more IHA laundry privatization stories, click here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald at or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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