Health unions offer to put April 1 pay increases on hold in bid to start talks

News release

Solutions urgently needed to avert loss of 5,000 skilled, experienced workers — more than 90 per cent of them women

Health unions today put a proposal to health employers that would put on hold payroll increases equaling $75 million over the next year in an effort to jump start negotiations to avert mass lay offs planned for B.C. hospitals and long-term care facilities.

The unions have proposed putting on hold the 4.4 per cent in wage and pay equity increases due April 1 in return for an undertaking by health employers that all contracting out and privatization initiatives will be put on hold pending the outcome of talks.

Hospital Employees’ Union secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt says the offer is a good faith effort to bring health employers and government to a table to find alternatives to privatizing critical health services.

“More than 5,000 skilled, experienced health care workers are on the verge of losing their jobs to privatization,” says Allnutt, who is also the chief spokesperson for the multi-union association representing 46,000 hospital and long-term care workers.

“That’s why it’s essential that negotiations begin immediately.” “Health care workers are prepared to compromise and make sacrifices in order to avoid a major crisis in our health care system,” says Allnutt. “We’ve made it clear to health employers that we’re prepared to roll up our sleeves and find additional savings.”

The terms of any settlement would go to a ratification vote of union members, adds Allnutt.

“If the government’s rationale for privatizing health care is really about saving money, we’ve provided them with a framework within which to address cost pressures.

“We have an opportunity to leave the confrontation and chaos of the last year behind,” adds Allnutt. “It’s time to talk. It’s time for solutions.”

-30- Contact: Mike Old, communications officer, 604-828-6771 (cell)