Jim Sinclair demands increased wages

B.C.’s leading union leader is demanding the government treat public employees fairly.

B.C.’s leading union leader is demanding the government treat public employees fairly.

Jim Sinclair, B.C. Federation of Labour president, met with health care workers during a stop at Vernon Jubilee Hospital Wednesday.

“People are concerned the government will give them more zeros and that’s not acceptable to them,” he said.

“They know they can’t keep falling behind.”

Sinclair says health care workers are expecting at least a cost of living wage increase and the prospect of job action depends on the government.

“It can be avoidable,” he said of a potential contract dispute.

He admits, though, that the Liberal government’s current poor showing in the polls could also play a factor in negotiations.

“Desperate governments do desperate things sometimes. They could attack the people who deliver these services.”

Sinclair is also aware of over-crowding at VJH but he believes the focus needs to be on the day-to-day duties of staff.

“Everyone is working hard in hospitals to make them work. We have one of the best health care systems in the world,” he said.

“Can it be better? Absolutely. But the people working here are delivering excellent care.”

Sinclair also focused on a current conflict between the B.C. Nurses Union and the Hospital Employees Union over members.

“Now is not the time to have an internal fight. Now is the time to stick together,” he said of current economic conditions and pressure from the government.