Unions tell HEABC to get serious about bargaining

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The Facilities Bargaining Association has tabled a revised package at the bargaining table and is calling on health employers to stop running down the clock on the March 31 expiry of the collective agreement.

The union move comes less than 48 hours after health employers tabled a bargaining proposal that was unchanged from their two-week-old opening position on key issues like general wage increases and job security.

The Facilities Bargaining Association, on the other hand, made significant moves on its economic package last week and continued that work today.

"Health employers need to roll up their sleeves and act like they want negotiated solutions,” says FBA chief negotiator Judy Darcy.

“We've been creative and flexible in proposing job security language that does not run afoul of Bill 29"s limitations on bargaining. They’ve responded with nothing and continue to issue pink slips to workers.

“And with the 1.5 per cent annual wage increase employers have on the table, it would take members another decade to make up for their 15 per cent wage cut.”

Darcy says the FBA made several moves today in order to make it “crystal clear” that the unions’ priorities of wages, job security and workload remain unchanged from last week.

Proposals for the restoration of a shorter work week, and for improvements to overtime pay, vision care and safety footwear allowances, have been withdrawn.

In addition, the FBA has revised its proposal on a joint committee on clerical issues that would proactively look at policy, training and benchmark issues for these workers.

On a positive note, both sides agreed to professional responsibility language for LPNs.

“Addressing the professional issues of LPNs is central to any solution to the nursing crisis in BC,” says Darcy.

“The professional responsibility language will help but we will continue to work at the bargaining table to make progress on other critical nursing issues like wages and scheduling.”

For the last six weeks, the union has also been involved in separate discussions on utilization, continuing education and recognition for LPNs and care aides at a union-employer-government policy table.

“These are very positive developments, but their success hinges on improved wages that address recruitment and retention problems and an expanded scope of practice for LPNs,” says Darcy.