Workers at seven long-term care homes in B.C. – including four in the Okanagan-Shuswap – have sent a strong strike mandate to their employer, Good Samaritan Canada.
The Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) members voted 98 per cent in favour of strike action to back their bargaining demands for a new contract with Good Sam. The members have been without an agreement for three years.
The seven Good Samaritan Canada sites include Heron Grove in Vernon, Pioneer Village and Hillside Lodge in Salmon Arm and Village By The Station in Penticton.
The other three sites are Victoria Heights in New Westminster, Delta View in Delta and Christenson Village in Gibsons.
“This strong vote for strike action by over 1,100 HEU members who work for Good Samaritan Canada sends a clear message that seniors’ care workers demand job security, respect, and fair compensation,” said HEU secretary-business manager Meena Brisard.
“HEU members rejected Good Samaritan’s demand for the right to contract out work and the employer’s unwillingness to increase any form of compensation in this time of spiraling household costs.
“We have a staffing crisis in health care right now, and Good Samaritan’s push for the right to contract work out sends the wrong signal about the need for stable, permanent jobs in long-term care.”
In addition to their contracting out demand, the HEU said Good Samaritan also refuses to negotiate even modest improvements in benefits and other compensation measures – even though the last monetary increase it gave its workers was in 2019. Since then, any boost in financial compensation for Good Samaritan employees has come solely through the B.C. government’s wage-levelling program.
“Like every other British Columbian, our members are facing rising costs for their families,” said Brisard. “This employer is being asked to make reasonable monetary improvements to benefits, shift premiums and other items that better protect members’ pay cheques against inflation.”
Good Samaritan Canada employs HEU members as care aides, dietary workers, housekeepers, registered nurses, activity aides and several other jobs. Members from all seven sites took part in two weeks of balloting, which wrapped up July 21.
“Good Samaritan Canada is committed to maintaining a good relationship with our unions and we will continue negotiating in good faith,” said the organization in an email to Black Press. “We remain optimistic that negotiations will result in an agreement. Resident care remains our number one priority and we will do our utmost to ensure that is maintained. We cannot comment on specifics of the collective bargaining process.”