Chronology of events leading to May 2 memorandum

March 2004

  • Health unions tell HEABC to stop firing health care workers during bargaining and reconsider their concessions package. Health employers refuse. Another 2,500 health care workers have been laid off since notice to bargain was given.
  • Health unions take strike votes and members vote 89 per cent in favour of a strike.
  • Facilities Subsector Collective Agreement expires March 31.

April 2, 2004

  • Talks stall when employers maintain their refusal to stop laying off workers during bargaining and refuse to take $900 million in concessions off the table.

April 15, 2004

  • At the request of health employers, the Labour Relations Board appoints a mediator to preside over talks.

April 20, 2004

  • The mediator books himself out of talks after health employers refuse to revise their 100-page concessions package.

April 22, 2004

  • HEU and other health unions in the sector serve 72-hour strike notice.

April 25, 2004

  • Picket lines go up at every hospital and long-term care facility across the province.

April 27, 2004

  • Government appoints deputy labour minister Lee Doney to meet with HEU and HEABC. HEU’s bargaining committee meets with Doney Tuesday night. The union offers to move off its bargaining position if HEABC agrees to provide employment security and modify its $900 million concessions package.

April 28, 2004

  • On Wednesday morning, in the last discussion under free collective bargaining, HEU’s Provincial Bargaining Committee rejects a government/employer demand for 14 per cent in:
  • wage and benefit concessions and “some form of employment security” which later turned out to be a contracting out cap of 5,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions.
  • Government tables Bill 37 — back-to-work legislation that includes massive, retroactive concessions and no employment security — just in time for the evening news.
  • HEU meets with the B.C. Federation of Labour (BCFL) officers to plan response to Bill 37.

April 29, 2004

  • Government passes Bill 37 at dawn.
  • Thursday morning, HEU instructs its members to maintain and respect protest lines opposing Bill 37 and provide essential services at B.C. hospitals and long-term care facilities.
  • HEU’s Provincial Executive decides that the restoration of our no-contracting-out language be the top priority in work with the B.C. Federation of Labour and its affiliates.

April 30, 2004

  • In the morning, thousands of trade unionists — many from the Canadian Union of Public Employees — walk off the job and join HEU protest lines around B.C.
  • And for the first time, private sector union members walk off the job in support.
  • In the afternoon, HEU, together with a sub-committee of BCFL officers, meet with labour minister Graham Bruce and identify contracting-out protection and no retroactivity as the priorities.

May 1, 2004

  • HEU protest lines remain and the provision of essential services continues as thousands of British Columbians attend May Day rallies and demonstrate their support for health care workers in cities across the province.
  • HEU, together with the sub-committee of BCFL officers, meet with government representatives. No progress is made.

May 2, 2004

  • HEU and the BCFL officers’ sub-committee continue to meet. HEU’s Provincial Executive remains in continuous session in order to make decisions as they are needed.
  • The government puts forward proposals to address HEU’s priorities regarding no contracting out and no retroactivity.
  • The B.C. Federation of Labour and HEU sign a memorandum with government and HEABC which limits the viciousness of the legislation, and HEU directs its members to stand down protest lines and return to work.