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Cleaning up Glavine's little messes

Workers with dish towels rally against privatized home care

by Robert Devet

Home care workers and professionals or mere cleaners and dishwashers. Bridgewater MLA Mark Furey's constituency office after a visit by 230 home care workers. Photo contributed
Home care workers and professionals or mere cleaners and dishwashers. Bridgewater MLA Mark Furey's constituency office after a visit by 230 home care workers. Photo contributed
Joachim Stroink's constituency office on Quinpool Road, location of one of the nine rallies province-wide against plans to introduce competitive bidding and for-profit enterprises into home care. Photo Robert Devet
Joachim Stroink's constituency office on Quinpool Road, location of one of the nine rallies province-wide against plans to introduce competitive bidding and for-profit enterprises into home care. Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK, (HALIFAX) - Home care providers province-wide took to the streets today. Rallies occurred at Liberal constituency offices in nine communities, and another event occurred at Province House in Halifax.

The message to government is that home care shouldn't be about profit margins, bottom lines and dividends. Rather, home care is about patients, and about the quality of care.

That's why home care workers oppose Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine's plans to introduce for-profit home care companies and competitive procurement into the system.

Currently home care services are mostly provided by nurses and home support workers employed by not-for-profit organizations such as the Victoria Order of Nurses (VON).

For-profits will resist unions and drive wages and benefits down, will lower levels of care and negatively affect staff continuity, the home care workers argue.

Angela McKenna is a member of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union (NSNU) who has worked in home care for more than twenty years. This morning she was on Quinpool Road, rallying with 40 others in front of Liberal MLA Joachim Stroink's constituency office.

“If you allow for-profit organizations then you will see the quality of care suffer,” McKenna tells the Halifax Media Co-op. “Clients will have to do with less, and cost will go up.”

Not just that. Both the NSNU and the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) have argued that companies will have a hell of a time finding qualified staff.

Home care workers, who are almost all female, are deeply hurt by Minister Glavine reportedly saying that they don't deserve to be paid $18 per hour just to wash dishes.

“It takes a very special person that walks into a home and makes the patient feel safe. The same patient that 20 years ago would have been in a hospital,” says McKenna.

At the Quinpool Road rally, as elsewhere, many waved dish towels at cars passing by. Many drivers honked in support of the demonstrators.

Other rallies were held at Antigonish, Amherst, Bridgewater, Glace Bay, Kingston, New Glasgow, and Yarmouth. Finance Minister Diane Whalen's constituency office in Clayton Park was also targeted.

By far the largest action occurred in Bridgewater, where 230 people rallied and marched down King Street, then hung dishtowels all over Minister of Business Mark Furey's office.

And there is more trouble brewing for Glavine's privatization plans.

At Province House Joan Jessome, President of the NSGEU, presented approximately 1200 signed pledges by workers.

If their work is contracted to another company, the workers will not accept employment unless their union representation with the NSGEU and contracts are respected by the new employer, the pledges state.

See also: Home care competitive bidding invites for-profit companies

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

 

 


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Topics: LabourHealth
447 words

Comments

What's wrong with being a dishwasher?

It's smelly, dirty, and labour intensive - as, no doubt, is home care work. But, seriously, if Glavine thinks dishwashing is a cakewalk, he should try working in a busy restaurant.

$18/hour for all.

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