New IH laundry contractor reports most employees are unionized

By Pete McIntyre
June 16, 2017 - 2:39pm

VERNON, B.C. — The company now in charge of hospital laundry service for Vernon, Kelowna and three other regions of Interior Health, says its new facility in Kelowna has hired 54 employees so far.

Ecotex Healthcare Linen Services CEO Randy Bartsch says in a statement, 50 of those are union members, from the Christian Labour Association of Canada.

He says once fully operational, the facility will create 75 full and part time positions with wages ranging from $11.75 to $17.75 an hour.

“As part of a long-term agreement with Interior Health, the new, centralized facility supports best practices in linen handling and infection control,” says Bartsch. “The state-of-the-art facility was commissioned in April with the first linens processed in mid-May.”

Privatizing the service led to 17 employees at Vernon’s hospital — members of the Hospital Employees Union — getting laid off this month, but Ecotex doesn’t say if any of them have been hired by their company.

“To ensure a seamless transition, the transfer of service to Ecotex will be phased in over several months. Ecotex is currently midway through the transition volumes,” adds Bartsch.

The Hospital Employees Union told our affiliate Kiss FM Thursday, more than 100 people have lost their jobs as a result of the privatization of the service, which they say there was never a strong business case for.

Interior Health has said it will mean not having to upgrade equipment, and will save 35 million dollars over the life of the 20 year deal, said to be worth $266 million.

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