#10 LRB decision will help speed up essential service designations

Bargaining bulletin

A Jan. 29 decision by the Labour Relations Board sets out a comprehensive and speedy process that will guide employers and unions in establishing essential services and setting levels at health care workplaces across B.C. over the coming weeks.

“We’re really pleased with the decision,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “The board has clearly decided to play a positive leadership role on an issue that has been quite thorny in the past.”

In the decision, the board directs the parties to exchange information about staffing levels and proposed essential service designation plans by Jan. 31. This process is already underway in many facilities.

As the next step, local employers and union representatives will meet to agree on the levels facility by facility.

If no agreement is achieved at a local level, then the dispute will be referred to the board, and a mediator appointed on a regional basis. The same regional theme will guide the LRB’s adjudication process to resolve disputes that aren’t settled in mediation, with the clearly stated goal of wrapping up all mediation/adjudication by the end of March.

Allnutt says that much of the LRB’s decision is based on a union-side proposal submitted to the board earlier in January. “It’s a real breakthrough, and one that results from close collaboration between HEU/CUPE, BCNU, BCGEU and HSA.”

He encouraged HEU activists to continue pressing forward on the essential services front to ensure that employers follow the agreement.