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BCGEU welcomes new legislation aimed at improving working conditions for health and social-sector employees - BCGEU

The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) welcomes the B.C. government's announcement today that it will repeal both the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act (Bill 29) and the Health Sector Partnerships Agreement Act (Bill 94). Enacted in 2002 and 2003, the bills led to the deterioration of working conditions for health and social-sector workers by stripping workplace protections and rights and enabling contract-flipping in the sector. The repeal of the bills will mark a positive step towards restoring working conditions and improving health care delivery to British Columbians – especially seniors and people with disabilities. 

"For the last 16 years those working in health-care settings throughout the province, many of whom are women, immigrants and visible minorities, have experienced significant instability and an erosion of working conditions as a result of these bills," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "The BCGEU has long pushed for change in the health services and community social services sectors, and to end the practice of contract-flipping in particular. Today's announcement demonstrates a concrete effort on the part of government to address these issues." 

The practice of contract-flipping typically involves mass layoffs and forces workers to re-apply for jobs that they have, in many cases, already been performing for years. When this occurs, existing collective agreements and union representation are not carried over, and contracts offered by the new service provider typically offer lower wages, reduced benefits and weakened rights for employees. In short, contract flipping is a strategy for suppressing wages and weakening employee rights in the workplace.

In B.C., contract flipping has been most prevalent in contracted healthcare, residential care, community social services, building maintenance and food services. This process has been harmful for workers in these sectors and the patients and clients that depend on them. 

The government has stated its intention to work collaboratively with various stakeholders to implement the repeal of these bills. The BCGEU looks forward to engaging in this process to support, and significantly improve conditions for workers affected by these changes. 

The BCGEU represents over 30,000 workers in the health services and community social services sectors. 

For more information please contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications, 604-719-4713