HEABC's new wage offer disappoints

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Health employers tabled a disappointing revision of their position on a general wage increase for hospital and long-term care workers Tuesday, barely moving from their opening position of nearly three weeks ago.

The Health Employers Association of BC made no move on its proposal for a year one general wage increase of 1.5 per cent, and nudged its offer for years two, three and four by one quarter of a percentage point to 1.75 per cent annually.

And with barely three weeks remaining before the current cap on contracting out expires, there was no move Tuesday by health employers on the critical issue of job security.

"This week we need to make real progress on wages and job security," says Judy Darcy, spokesperson for the Facilities Bargaining Association.

"But all we've got from health employers is a plan that would see current wage rates - already 15 per cent lower than two years ago - continue to lag behind inflation."

And the lack of progress on job security is especially alarming given the provincial government's continued push for more private health care, adds Darcy.

Some progress was made at the table Tuesday with both sides agreeing on the details of a pilot project to encourage trades apprenticeships in health care. There was also broad agreement on the need for a benchmark review for clerical work but resources for this review remain outstanding.

And discussions continued on workload and on an early intervention program that would provide more assistance to injured and ill workers.

"We are working in every way possible to provide momentum and get a decent settlement for our members," says Darcy.

"But health employers need to engage in meaningful negotiations on the key issues of wages and job security."

Talks continue Wednesday.