HEU tables bargaining package

Bargaining bulletin

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HEU and its union partners in the facilities subsector tabled a comprehensive bargaining package Thursday afternoon.

“This package is aimed at restoring stability in a health care system plagued by chaos and disruption,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “It’s aimed at restoring quality health care services for all British Columbians — services that have been assaulted from every conceivable angle by a government that wants blood from a stone.”

The bargaining package emphasizes the need to re-establish the trust between health care workers and government that was shattered more than two years ago with the passage of Bill 29 — legislation that effectively gutted key provisions of the union’s freely negotiated collective agreement. Along with other measures, that means an immediate freeze on contracting out while talks are underway and a public commitment to respecting a free collective bargaining process.

In the wake of massive contracting out of health care services in acute and long-term care facilities, the package emphasizes the protection of publicly delivered medicare services. The union’s bargaining package includes proposals that would put an end to contracting out, protect seniors’ care, and ensure full disclosure and monitoring of private health care contracts that are already in place.

With thousands of health care workers now fired without cause and thousands more at risk, employment security is key to retaining a skilled and experienced workforce. That requires a series of initiatives to address re-training and educational upgrading, hiring practices, successorship, severance, bumping, and early retirement.

A new collective agreement must also do more to recognize the occupational and geographical diversity of HEU members in an increasingly complex health care environment. Measures needed include new benchmarks and pay rates along with other protections and adjustments.

“This package shows that our union is playing a leading role to ensure the preservation of quality patient care in a public health care system. It’s now up to the government and health employers to follow that lead,” says Allnutt.