HEABC threatens to delay wage hikes for community health workers

HEU is fighting moves by health employers to shortchange community health workers on wage increases effective two years ago and to further delay subsequent wage boosts.

At issue is the Health Employers Association of B.C. position that the April 1, 1999 interim wage adjustment of 2.5 per cent of total payroll should be reduced by the value of wage-related benefit costs such as CPP, EI and LTD premiums.

HEU and the other unions representing community health workers say this runs contrary to the language and intent of the collective agreement and that the 30 cent an hour increase that some workers have already received is inadequate.

A policy grievance on the matter will be heard by arbitrator Vince Ready on July 13 and health employers are threatening to delay further wage adjustments due April 1, 2000 and 2001 until the issue is resolved — a process that could take months.

“HEABC’s denial of negotiated increases to community health workers is meanspirited and unwarranted,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“It’s especially galling because health employers committed themselves to moving quickly to implement the job matching process and interim wage grid for the April 1, 2000 wage increase.”

The unions are demanding that health employers implement this adjustment along with the April 1, 2001 general wage increase of two per cent be disbursed immediately.

“We can readjust wage increases later based on Ready’s ruling,” says Allnutt. “But there is no sound reason to deny three years of wage increases that span two collective agreements to our members.”