Care-home layoff plans averted after unionized workers speak out

COQUITLAM, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Jospehine Bereber was at this same park in Coquitlam a few weeks ago, rallying to keep her job as a care aid worker for the past 10 years.

She was among 150 mostly Filipino employees of the Madison and Lakeshore care-centers who were given lay off notices in May by the privately owned, publicly funded care homes.

“We are all speechless, just looked at each other…nothing. It’s really shocking, we don’t know what’s going on. We really worked hard there, and pagmamahal namin; tinuring naming yung mga residents namin na pamilya.”

The reason given was that their sub-contractor was retiring.

But care workers believe it was because majority of the workers voted to join the union.

Still, it did not stop them from seeking help to fight management’s decision.

By attending and speaking up at Fraser Health Authority meetings, tapping their local lawmakers, and having the senior residents’ families and Hospital Employees’ Union behind them, the layoffs were averted.

The care workers personally thanked British Columbia’s Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Fraser Health Board chair Jim Sinclair for intervening to resolve the crisis.

Through their help, care workers will be able to keep their jobs, even with a new contractor for both care homes.

The agreement marks a small victory in BC, where staff turnover continues in many healthcare facilities due to contracting and contract flipping.

Union groups have been pushing for legislation to protect care workers’ employment stability for years.

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