News

Duncan’s largest seniors home fires its staff again

Sunridge Place employees received termination notices Monday, as the assisted living and complex care facility has been sold.

A total of 264 employees are affected, including 124 reliefor part-time positions. Relief employees are not required to be provided with notices under the Employment Standards Act.

In the letter that went out to employees, “the effective date of termination of your employment is June 2, 2014,’’ owner Norm Jones indicated. “As prescribed in the Act, this notice period includes all notice of layoff to which you are entitled pursuant to the collective agreement.

“The reason for the group termination is that Sunridge Place has been sold to a third party purchaser. Accordingly, Sunridge Place Limited Partnership and Bundock Management Ltd., doing business as Sunridge Place, will cease to be the employer.’’

A second letter from Jones to all Hospital Employees Union members indicated “as you were advised late last year, I made a decision to sell Sunridge Place.’’

Jones added he concluded the sale Monday to an as-yet unnamed third-party purchaser, effective in June.

“The third-party purchaser will be introduced to your collective bargaining agent, the HEU, later this week. I will have no active role with respect to negotiations or decisions made with respect to alterations in terms and conditions of employment.’’

Sunridge Executive Director Laura Griffin referred the News Leader Pictorial to labour lawyer Tim Charron for comment.

“As far as we’re aware, Sunridge Place is not closing,’’ said Charron. “It’s going to provide care and services to the residents in complex care and assisted living.

“I will be meeting with the union to discuss the sale and any impact on staff later this week. In fairness to the collective bargaining process and the fact the employees are represented by the HEU, I think we should talk to them first before we talk to any third parties.’’

Margi Blamey, a communications officer for the HEU, said the collective agreement at Sunridge expired in September 2013.

“We did schedule bargaining dates in November and December and the employer did cancel them,’’ she said.

“That collective agreement remains in force when the new owner comes into play,’’ Blamey added. “On a bigger front for Sunridge and going back to Cowichan Lodge, Sunridge had a business model in place and it appears that business model has failed.

“I can assure people this is not the first time this has happened to HEU members in residential care in the last decade.’’

The termination of Sunridge Place staff also occurred in December 2009 when Jones terminated his contract with operators Duncan Care Campus and its 228 employees, just days after staffers voted 72% in favour of joining the HEU — even though spokesman Andrew Butler said at the time the two incidents were not connected.

HEU secretary-business manager Bonnie Pearson said these layoffs are completely unexpected and will create uncertainty and disruption for the residents and their families as well as the workers.

“The residents and their families trust and depend on the staff at Sunridge to provide assistance with virtually every aspect of daily living. Laying off workers at the same time as the facility’s ownership will be changing hands doubles the upheaval and chaos and is certainly not in the best interest of the residents.’’

“It’s something that should be avoided at all costs,’’ said Blamey. “This is just creating more turmoil that quite frankly there has been nothing but turmoil since it opened.”

Even though employees may be distressed about their own personal situations, those in residential care take their positions very seriously, Blamey said.

“They do not abandon in any way, the people they look after.’’

 

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