HEU members meet to hammer out bargaining strategy
More than 300 representatives from HEU locals around the province gathered in Richmond Sunday to debate the union’s bargaining package and strategize for a difficult round of contract talks.Secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt kicked off the three-day conference by reviewing the union’s two-year fight against the Campbell government’s Bill 29 and its impact on HEU members. “Every single HEU member who has lost her or his job is a tragedy,” says Allnutt. “But let’s be clear — every member whose job we’ve saved or kept in place longer than the boss planned is a win for us and a loss for the boss.” In an open discussion on bargaining strategy Sunday afternoon, delegates reviewed the devastating toll Bill 29 has taken on their own workplaces, on their co-workers, and on the patients, residents and clients they look after. In a wide-ranging discussion Sunday afternoon, delegates aired a range of views on bargaining strategy but with overwhelming agreement on the need for a strong and united union to emerge from the wage policy conference. More than 5,000 HEU members have lost their jobs as a result of contracting out. And 2,000 more are expected in the next few months. Allnutt reviewed efforts the union has made over the last two years to lessen Bill 29’s impact on members including local agreements that have saved 2,900 jobs and occupation-specific proposals that have been rejected by health authorities. HEU’s 16th Wage Policy Conference continues Monday and Tuesday when delegates will participate in a series of strategy workshops, debate nearly 200 bargaining resolutions and elect a new provincial bargaining committee.