[Marxism] Healthcare Strike in British Columbia

Tim Kennelly tim_gmk at yahoo.ca
Sat May 1 03:16:29 MDT 2004


  Note: In Canada we have public healthcare, and the
aforementioned dispute is taking place in this light. 

  British Columbia (a province of Canada)has currently
been embroiled in a healthcare strike by members of
the Health Employees Union (HEU) since last Sunday. 
It is not my intention to provide a full report on
this stike, there are some good websites that can
provide this info for those wishing to seek it out. 
However, I want to provide some background, as weel as
a skeleton outline of events to date.
    The BC Liberals, under the leadership of Gordon
Campbell, were elected in May 2001.  In the
fall of 2001, the BC Liberal government passed
legislation that ripped up a collective agreement that
had been signed between the HEU and the previous New
Democractic Party (NDP) government, and they announced
their intention to begin privatizing HEU jobs.  In
early 2002, the BC liberals reached a new coolective
agreement with Chris Allnutt, head of the HEU, which
would have seen HEU members to make major wage
concessions (I don't remember the exact ammount), in
exchange for a freeze on contracting out (with the
exception of those positions for which private
contracts had already been tendered).  The HEU
membership voted 57% against the agreement, and the
British Columbia health authorities have been slowly
but surely privatizing HEU jobs since then.  This has
in some cases resulted in $19 an hour HEU jobs
becoming 9$ hour non-unionized jobs, with the former
HEU members inellegible to take this work.
    As mentioned, the current strike has been ongoing
since Sunday.  On Wednesday, the BC Liberals
introduced a bill, passed after an all night sitting
of the BC legislature, to order the HEU members back
to work.  The draconian legislation, Bill 37, orders
the HEU members back to work, legislates a 15% wage
reduction (made retoractive to April 1), and provides
no limits on contracting out.  The HEU has defied the
back to work order thursday and Friday.  They were
joined Friday by several other public sector union
locals, mostly in Victoria (the provincial capital),
and this is
expected to spread on Monday.  There has even been
speculation that this could increase into a general
strike.

   For those wanting more information on this strike,
here are a couple of websites with good info:

BC NDP: http://bc.ndp.ca
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada: http://www.cpcml.ca

I will keep this listserv updated as events develop.

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