Tentative agreement reached for community social services workers

Bargaining bulletin

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A tentative agreement has been reached covering 15,000 community social services workers in B.C. The four-year deal includes wage increases totalling 8.3 percent, wage parity increases, and a pension plan at the end of the agreement.

An additional 1.6 percent will go into workers’ pockets annually after the first year, when employers resume Medical Services Plan contributions. Full-time workers will receive a $4,200 signing bonus (pro-rated for part-timers and casuals.)

It was clear throughout bargaining that the B.C. government continues to be stingy with this lowest-paid group of public sector workers, and the recruitment and retention crisis in this sector must still be addressed.

Stability in the sector will be hard to come by as long as workers can get $2-$15 more an hour by doing the comparable job in the health or school sectors.

During the first two months of bargaining process employers failed to resolve any meaningful issues and were unable to supply accurate costing figures as required by the Labour Code. This made negotiations unnecessarily difficult over the past week, with a large number of important but unresolved issues left to the end.

HEU’s Provincial Executive will review the terms of settlement and a comprehensive report to members will also be prepared.

Highlights

  • Four years, expires March 31, 2010.
  • Total 8.3 percent over four years (equals 8.56 percent compounded) -- 2.3 per cent effective April 1, 2006 and 2 per cent on April 1 of each remaining year.
  • Wage increases also apply to Non-Provincially Funded (NPF) positions. Note: This applies to General Services and Community Living Services. The Aboriginal Services agreement details will be outlined in a separate bulletin.
  • Wage equity adjustments include approximately $2 million over four years for wage equity increases to be determined by the Joint Job Evaluation Committee. The committee will determine the specific wage rate increases and advise members within 30 days of ratification. The increases will be retroactive to April 1, 2006, and be applied every April 1 in following years of the agreement.
  • An increase of 1.6 per cent in take-home pay when employers resume paying for MSP premiums, effective April 1, 2007.
  • If an employer tries to go outside the Health Benefits Trust to provide benefit coverage, they must provide equivalent benefits as detailed in the agreement.
  • Casuals will now receive time-and-a-half for hours worked on paid holidays.
  • Part-time employees can choose to bank their 4.2 percent holiday pay, and receive a day in lieu for statutory holidays.
  • Government has committed to providing members with a public pension plan at the end of the fourth year.
  • Job security -- A new Continuity of Service and Employment Agreement now covers all provincial funders. It includes job protection for any new certifications. This is especially important if an agency is re-tendered. The employees have the right to be interviewed by the new employer.
  • More bumping and recall options.
  • Scheduling - more protection against arbitrary changes in schedules.
  • Hours of work - we held the line on reasonable hours of work. The employers were asking for the right to assign shifts, and schedule extended-hour shifts up to 16 hours or longer.
  • Postings and promotion - seniority counts more in lateral transfers, promotions, and for internal and external job postings.
  • Harassment protection - anti-bullying language added.
  • Employers have agreed to notify stewards of new members, jointly create a fact sheet on grievance procedures, and provide straight-time pay for Occupational Health & Safety committee members.
  • Transportation allowance of $.41 per kilometre.
  • A one-time signing bonus of $4,200 for each for every full-time worker (must have 35 hrs/wk. or 1820 hrs/yr.) Bonus amount is pro-rated for part-time and casual workers.