LRB says no to HEU request for interim order on essential services

Bargaining bulletin

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Health employers’ campaign to stall essential services discussions received some help Friday as the Labour Relations Board rejected a bid by HEU to set interim orders for essential service levels that are not established by the end of the month.

As a result, essential services may not be in place when the collective agreement covering more than 40,000 workers expires on March 31.

“I believe health employers have been taken aback by the level of enthusiasm our members are showing in ongoing strike votes,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“Now HEABC is scrambling to throw up roadblocks in the essential services process to stall our efforts to reach a fair contract.”

In 2001, the LRB did provide an interim order for outstanding local levels that had not been set based on previous levels. In Friday’s ruling, LRB vice-chair Mark Brown wrote that the current situation was not the same as in 2001 but left the door open to revisiting HEU’s application.

In the meantime, the LRB says that mediation and adjudication of outstanding issues will take place on a regional basis beginning April 5 and be “completed in an expeditious fashion.”

HEU will continue to press for an interim order and will work hard in the meantime to negotiate, mediate or adjudicate local essential services levels, says Allnutt.

“Our efforts are to make sure our patients and residents are looked after as we push for a fair contract.”

Allnutt says that the Health Employers’ Association of B.C.’s delaying tactics at the board have been accompanied by instructions to local employers to send threatening letters to activists about potential job action.

“HEABC should spend less time trying to sabotage collective bargaining and more time coming up with a reasonable set of bargaining demands.”