Community health workers out on one-day job action

Cranbrook Public Health Unit was reduced to limited services Wednesday

Interior Health employees who are members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1518 picketed outside the Cranbrook Health Unit on Wednesday

Community health workers were on strike in Cranbrook on Wednesday, November 14, causing a cut in services at the Cranbrook Health Unit.

Interior Health workers in the B.C. Government and Service Employee’s Union (BCGEU) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1518 picketed outside the Health Unit (Rocky Mountain House) from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

The striking Interior Health employees included licensed practical nurses (LPNs), community and mental health workers, and administration,

As a result, Interior Health announced that the unit would not be performing Prevention and Promotion immunizations, non-essential new baby home visits, diabetic education visits, assessments for home health services, occupational and physical therapist visits, or mental health counselling appointments.

The health unit remained open throughout the day with limited services for urgent mental health intake, home support services and community care nursing.

Community health care workers have been in bargaining talks with the Health Employers Association of B.C. (HEABC) since January 2012 for a new collective agreement.

“When the bargaining first started, the government said we needed a cooperative gains mandate and there was no money available,” said Lorraine Ausman, a Cranbrook member of the UFCW.

“(We are picketing) to get a fair and reasonable wage without offsetting through our collective agreement,” added Doris Erickson, a local BCGEU member.

Ausman said large pieces of the collective agreement have yet to be agreed upon.

“Anything deemed monetary is still outstanding,” she said.

Community health bargaining stalled on November 1, and job action commenced with a rally for health care in Vancouver on November 7.

Strike notice for Cranbrook’s one day job action was issued late last week.