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Union accuses Burnaby nursing home operators of firing staff to save money

Last Updated Feb 16, 2018 at 6:52 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

A local union is accusing a Burnaby nursing home's operators of firing staff to cut costs by bringing in sub-contractors

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – The contracting out of nearly 50 care aides at a Burnaby nursing home has prompted union claims of quality care being compromised.

Jennifer Whiteside with the Hospital Employees Union says most workers at the Finnish Manor near Canada Way and Gilmore are losing their jobs because the new operators of the facility want to slash wages and benefits.

“To fire an entire care staff, bring in a sub-contractor who is going to be paying wages significantly less –that just seems to me a real cynical drive for trying to make more money off of the backs of the people who are providing the care and that certainly is not in the best interests of the seniors or the workers.”

She says this is happening at a time when nursing home operators across BC are begging the provincial government for money to hire more staff and aides currently making good wages are facing massive pay cuts.

“Those workers are currently earning in the neighbourhood of $23 an hour. In the nursing home sector that is privatized, that is where we see the lowest wages –generally, at least $5 an hour below the standard in the master collective agreement and it comes, of course, with few benefits and no pension.”

Speaking on behalf of the Finnish Manor’s new operators –the Jubilee Multi Generational Housing Society, Ian West says that may be true, but he’s been told wages being offered by the sub-contractor are fair.

“Anyone that works anywhere has a choice of working or not staying there,” he tells NEWS 1130. “Certainly it is true that the union will be losing revenue because they won’t have those members paying a percentage of their wages into them.”

West also denies actions being taken now by the Jubilee Multi Generational Housing Society compromise the quality of care at the facility. In fact, he says it is actually improving.

“If only because people who are coming to work there have recently chosen that this is what they want to do. I know there’s a lot of people currently at Finnish Manor that’s worked there many, many years of dedicated service. The not-for-profit board are hopeful that those same people choose to stay.”

While he admits he doesn’t know if current employees will be forced to take a pay cut, West suggests they’ve been told by union leaders not to re-apply for their own jobs.