HEU proposes key changes to Labour Relations Code


The Hospital Employees’ Union recently submitted a proposal for numerous amendments to the Labour Relations Code (the Code) to add, modify and improve provisions that address contracting out, successorship rights, gender pay equity, and collective bargaining.

If implemented, the recommendations would strengthen and protect workers’ rights.


When the BC Liberals passed Bill 29 (2002) and Bill 94 (2003), it paved the way for widespread privatization of health care support services, resulting in massive layoffs – especially women and racialized workers – corporate restructuring, hospital closures and downgrading, service consolidation, and lucrative, multi-year contracts with global corporations.

It fragmented the health care sector, destabilized job security, and stripped crucial labour rights from collective agreements.

The BC Liberals’ anti-labour laws also caused tremendous damage to the long-term care sector by allowing employers to de-accredit from the Health Employers Association of British Columbia, which authorized employers to pull out of the Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA) collective agreement, privatize services, hire workers at substandard wages with minimal benefits, and contract-flip at their whim.

Private corporations were making millions of dollars – mostly public taxpayer money – on the backs of health care workers earning poverty-level wages. While these privateers had minimal accountability, many workers held two or three jobs to make ends meet.

Bill 29 also revoked “successorship” provisions and contracting-out protections from collective agreements. And it muddied the waters in designating a worker’s “true employer” or “common employer”, impacting their right to port seniority and paid banks, or remain with their union.

As a result, HEU launched a comprehensive organizing drive to unionize numerous workplaces and thousands of workers. Many workers applied for their previous jobs – now under a private employer – with substandard wages and working conditions.

Where we are today

In 2018, the BC NDP passed the Health Sector Statutes Repeal Act (Bill 47), which reversed Bill 29 and Bill 94 – a celebrated move that began repairing the dysfunctional privatization landscape created by the BC Liberals (now BC United).

After two decades of fighting privatization, more than 4,000 contracted support services workers have been repatriated back into the public health system over the past few years. However, repatriated workers in the private sector are still not afforded successorship protections.

Although Bill 47 began the process of restoring successorship protection for unionized health care workers, substantial case law from the Labour Relations Board (LRB) states that contracting out and subsequent private sector repatriation is not a successorship.

That’s why HEU urges the LRB to amend section 35 of the Code to expand successorship protections, citing current gaps can be used as a tool to skirt unionization, and continue harming workers.

Other recommendations

Any existing collective agreement at the time of privatization should be binding and enforced by the new contractor or recapturing employer (repatriation).

Once the LRB certifies a trade union as the bargaining agent for a group of employees, the employer cannot change the conditions of employment until a collective agreement is executed, no matter the timeframe it takes to conclude.

Broaden picketing rights for workers on strike or locked out by their employer.

Facilitate broader-based bargaining through multi-employer sectoral certifications.  

Revise the Code to align with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and prioritize Indigenous perspectives and reconciliation in future reviews of the Code.

All collective agreements, entered into or renewed after January 1, 2025, must contain a process to identify, evaluate and rectify any systemic gender-based wage gaps. If there’s no process, an arbitrator may be brought in to facilitate.