Facilities subsector bargaining to begin Jan. 9

Bargaining bulletin

Health employers expected to table significant concession demands

Talks for a new contract for more than 40,000 health and support workers in hospitals and long-term care facilities across the province are set to begin Jan. 9, with the Health Employers Association of B.C. promising to table “full and complete proposals” at the first negotiating meeting.

HEU bargaining spokesperson Chris Allnutt says health care bosses will probably outline a series of demands for concessions in wages, benefits, and workplace rules that weren’t eliminated by the Campbell government’s contract breaking legislation in 2002.

“Employers have never been this aggressive to get negotiations underway this early,” Allnutt says. “It continues to raise questions that they are motivated by the Campbell Liberal’s election timetable,” he said.

HEABC issued its formal legal notice to bargain to health unions Dec. 31, and under the B.C. Labour Code talks must commence within 10 days.

Allnutt says facilities subsector health unions will fulfill their legal responsibilities to bargain. But he emphasized that the union side would only be able to table its bargaining proposals in February, after each union’s respective membership bargaining demand ratification process is complete.

HEU’s Wage Policy Conference is set for Feb. 9 and 10 in Richmond.

The multi-union bargaining association — which will meet before Jan. 9 — also includes the BCGEU, UFCW Local 1518, IUOE Local 882.

Meanwhile, talks for a new contract for 15,000 health and support workers in the community subsector are expected to get underway the week of Jan. 12. And mediated talks for a new contract for 15,000 community social service workers are expected to resume early in January as well. In this sector, employers are pressing for significant rollbacks in wages and benefits.

About 2,500 HEU members are part of the community health and community social service negotiations.