Rally supports laundry jobs

Hospital laundry workers are taking to the street to protect their jobs

Laundry workers used the extra day in February to send a message about possible privatization.

Members of the Hospital Employees Union gathered in front of Vernon Jubilee Hospital at 7 a.m. Monday, Leap Day, to protest the Interior Health Authority’s investigation of contracting out laundry services.

“Once they are gone, they are unlikely to come back,” said Wes Fitzsimmons, union spokesperson, of the 17 jobs at VJH and 175 positions at 11 facilities in the Interior.

“They are hard-working people who do them and it’s an efficient service.”

Members of the unions held signs and waved to motorists travelling along Hospital Hill.

Fitzsimmons says the jobs are well-paying and those wages support families and local economies.

IHA is expected to make a decision soon on the future of laundry services.

Nearly 13,000 residents signed a petition opposing contracting out and local governments in Nelson, Kamloops, Vernon, Summerland, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House raised concerns with the government and IHA about privatizing laundry.

A recent study by a university economist didn’t find a valid business case for contracting out the work, after reviewing IHA documents.

“The service we provide in-house is a good service,” said Fitzsimmons.

IHA says it appreciates the concerns of laundry services staff.

“The matter is being discussed with our board of directors during meetings today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) and we anticipate to have an update following those discussions,” states a release.