About 100 hospital support workers in Burnaby won’t be taking job action, as the Hospital Employees’ Union reached a tentative agreement with Aramark.
After two long days at the table, the union was able to reach a tentative settlement late Tuesday night – similar to the Sodexo agreement of an increase of a dollar an hour over a term of four years and an improvement to health benefits, according to union spokesperson Bonnie Pearson.
“We’re pleased we were able to reach an agreement with Aramark without having to go to job action,” Pearson told the Burnaby NOW. “It was a long stretch, but I think people are cautiously optimistic about the results they wanted to achieve.”
Many housekeepers working in the Fraser Health Authority region need two jobs in order to make ends meet, and all members wanted was a living wage, the union has stated in the past.
“Obviously, this is a low-wage sector, and we’re always happy to bring it up higher, and we hope the members look at the overall balance of the agreement and find it meets their needs,” Pearson added.
Union members had delivered a 97 per cent strike mandate to the bargaining committee last week before negotiators met.
On Sept. 19, union members at Royal Columbian Hospital held an information picket, and on Sept. 30 housekeepers held one in the pouring rain outside Burnaby Hospital.
“We need the help. We need the support,” Penny Kostopoulos, a housekeeper, told the Burnaby NOW on Monday outside Burnaby Hospital where she works. “We do the cleaning. All the infection control, we have to do it. Clearly for all that we deserve one dollar, 50 cents or 75 cents more to do it. We’re doing a good job, and we deserve better coverage.”
The province privatized hospital cleaning and food services 10 years ago and four multinational corporations – Acciona, Aramark, Compass-Marquise and Sodexo – employ nearly 4,400 workers in B.C.
Contracts for the workers, who had not received a raise since Sept. 2011, expired nearly a year ago.
Union members will vote on the new agreement soon, and the results will be known by the end of the month, Pearson added.
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