Major developments at Labour Relations Board as mediator appointed to meet with unions and employers

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Also: Health unions apply for interim order on essential services by April 21

The B.C. Labour Relations Board has appointed a mediator Thursday to meet with health unions and employers on a request from the Health Employers Association of B.C.

Under the Labour Code, the mediator — Stephen Rinfret — must report to the LRB no later than within 20 days of his appointment or ten days of his first meeting with the parties, or sooner. Until the mediator “books out” the Labour Code prohibits job action.

HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt — who speaks for the multi-union bargaining association — says the unions will push for an early meeting with Rinfret and urge him to get agreement from HEABC to put privatization and layoffs on hold. (UPDATE: Rinfret has agreed to hold a first meeting Friday afternoon.)

“Without a commitment to putting privatization and contracting out on hold, HEABC’s mediation application will have been nothing more than foot-dragging while hundreds of decent jobs are eliminated over the next few weeks,” says Allnutt.

In other developments at the LRB, the union bargaining association applied Thursday for an interim order that would establish April 21 as the deadline for finalizing essential services levels.

And on Wednesday, the LRB overruled objections from health unions and will now hear an application next week from Sodexho, Aramark and Compass who are seeking unimpeded access to health care facilities where they have contracts during any health care job action.