Sunday, July 17, 2005

Act NOW! Canada: A Sodexho hospital job is a passport to poverty

Act NOW!
Canada: A Sodexho hospital job is a passport to poverty

Health care unions are bargaining with the Paris-based multinational Sodexho for a first collective agreement covering 1,100 workers who clean hospitals and feed patients in British Columbia, Canada. In this recently privatized sector of health care, wages have been cut nearly in half. As a result, a Sodexho hospital job is a passport to poverty for a workforce that is predominately female. Sodexho workers want a fair contract and a decent wage. But the message from Sodexho at the bargaining table is clear: Let them eat cake.


• The French corporation Sodexho is under contract to several health authorities and care facilities to provide a range of support services. Sodexho bid on contracts that were tendered after the B.C. Liberal government passed Bill 29 in 2002. That law removed long-standing contracting out provisions from health care collective agreements.

• The Hospital Employees’ Union represents approximately 1,450 members employed by Sodexho and working in health facilities throughout the Lower Mainland, in the Fraser Valley and on the Sunshine Coast and south Vancouver Island.

• As a result of organizing campaigns carried out since 2002, HEU now represents more than 3,400 employees of foreign corporations including Sodexho that have been contracted by health employers to provide health support services.

• The current round of bargaining with Sodexho began on March 11. The two sides are currently using a mediator to help reach a first collective agreement.

• HEU Sodexho members:
o clean operating rooms and special care nurseries and are an integral part of the infection control team in Fraser Health Authority hospitals;
o prepare meals for patients recovering in hospital and to residents living in care homes throughout the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority; and
o provide housekeeping, laundry and dietary services to frail seniors in residential care facilities in Richmond, Vancouver, Coquitlam and Victoria.

• Nearly 90 per cent earn wages of $10.15 an hour. That means that a full-time Sodexho worker supporting two children falls more than $10,000 below the poverty line established by Statistics Canada.

• An April 2005, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report – The Pains of Privatization – concludes that “a privatized health support job in BC is virtually synonymous with poverty.” The study also found that:
o many contract workers live paycheque-to-paycheque
o over 40 per cent have at least one other job and most are looking for additional work
o nearly 50 per cent intend to leave their jobs within six months
o exhaustion, illness and injury was widespread – over 60 per cent fell sick or were hurt on the job, and
o with no job security and minimal sick time, more than half came to work unwell.

• Last year, Sodexho’s Paris-based top exec, chief operating officer Michel Landel, pocketed more than $1.4 million (983,541 Euros) in salary and fringe benefits – a 16 per cent increase over the previous year.

• Over the next decade, BC taxpayers will shell out $400 million to Sodexho.

• Surely Sodexho can afford to give workers a fair contract and a decent wage.

You can help! Sign Letter HERE

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