#14Concessions still pose barrier to serious talks and bargaining solutions

Bargaining bulletin

HEABC dragging feet on monetary offer

While health employers withdrew a handful of minor rollback demands in three days of talks this week on facility issues, they’ve still got a big package of heavyweight concessions parked at the bargaining table which are a barrier to serious negotiations.

At this advanced stage in the process, “HEABC negotiators need to get real in terms of setting a tone that will allow the two sides to achieve solutions,” HEU bargaining spokesperson Chris Allnutt says. “Our progressive proposals will help improve conditions for our members and the quality of care for British Columbians,” he said. “The boss needs to get past this kind of old-style approach to bargaining.”

Meanwhile, in parallel discussions on community issues, Allnutt says that the health unions’ move last week to speed up the pace of talks hasn’t produced the hoped for results. “Employers haven’t taken the right cue from what was an important union initiative to break a potential logjam,” he said. “Overall progress hasn’t been as successful as we hoped.”

Another emerging impediment is the lack of a monetary offer from employers. Calling it foot-dragging, Allnutt says the unions will continue to press the boss to table a wage offer and address other cost issues. “We’ve been at the table for some time, so it’s not good enough for employers to tell us they won’t be able to table a wage offer until the end of February at the earliest.

SPIN OF THE WEEK Health employers get an “F” in accounting this week. HEABC costed the facilities package at $443 million. Moments later it was $419 million. And then for good measure they rounded it up to $500 million.

COUNTERSPIN Such narrow bean counting is way off base and doesn’t take into account the benefit of better care or the cost savings that would result from many of the unions’ bargaining proposals.