"No more delays," HEU tells health employers

Arbitrator clarifies comparability award HEU is calling on health employers to move forward with the implementation of comparability without delay now that arbitrator Stephen Kelleher has confirmed the historic award of last fall. In a supplementary award dated March 14, Kelleher provided HEU and the Health Employers Association of B.C. reasons for awarding a three per cent wage adjustment to HEU members. "With these supplementary reasons, my Award dated September 21, 1999, is hereby confirmed," wrote Kelleher. This week's clarification by Kelleher clears the way for health employers to get on with the job of providing wage adjustments to front-line health care workers, says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. But despite Kelleher's ruling, HEABC has refused to give the union assurances that it will not indulge in further appeals of the comparability award. "Our members have been very patient," says Allnutt. "We've told employers that each day they delay adds to the final cost of the settlement and to the frustration felt by health care workers who've waited long enough." The province has already allocated funds for the comparability settlement through special warrants issued earlier this year, adds Allnutt. "We've told HEABC that we expect to see action on comparability by May 1 and that the union sees May Day as Pay Day." Kelleher's March 14 supplementary award was provided in response to a request from the Labour Relations Board for clarification of his Sept. 21 decision on the comparability/pay equity issue. Kelleher outlined the factors which he used to reach his final determination for a three per cent wage adjustment retroactive to April 1, 1996. "Having reached these conclusions, I decided that three per cent would not achieve parity, but was the minimum number I could award that would reach comparability," Kelleher wrote. Kelleher also expressed surprise that HEABC would appeal the decision based on the "brevity of the reasons." He noted that to avoid even more lengthy delays, both parties had agreed to a less formal process to reach a final decision on the comparability/pay equity issue. "The form of my [original] award was in keeping with what I understood the parties wanted," he said.