Pay equity survives Bill 37 and brings thousands of health care workers up to target rate

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A TWO-YEAR PAY EQUITY adjustment plan worth more than $36 million will bring 170 benchmarks up to their top-step pay equity target rate.

In all, more than 34,000 members receive pay equity adjustments and nearly 60 per cent of these achieve their pay equity target rates by 2005.

Click here for the table summarizing pay equity adjustments over the next two years and includes the impact of these adjustments on the government-imposed 11 per cent wage rollback implemented May 1.

The plan — reached Monday between health care unions and the Health Employers Association of B.C. — distributes annual pay equity adjustments worth one per cent of the sector’s payroll retroactive to April 1, 2004 and again on April 1, 2005.

Health employers had put the suspension of pay equity on the table during contract talks this spring, but the Campbell Liberals left these ongoing adjustments untouched when they imposed a contract on 43,000 health care workers in April.

“Make no mistake — Bill 37 stole a decade of pay equity gains from working women and men in health care,” says Hospital Employees’ Union secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “But it’s our members’ fight for fair wages in a sector dominated by women that ensured pay equity was not removed from the contract by the Campbell Liberals.

The largest adjustment will go to Licensed Practical Nurses who will receive a monthly wage adjustment of $193 retroactive to April 1 reducing the impact of last month’s legislated 11 per cent roll back to 6.4 per cent.

Other classifications receiving 2004 pay equity adjustments are Dental Assistants, Lab Assistants, all Nursing Assistants in Sterile Supply, Respiratory, Rehab, Anesthetics, Therapy, CPR and Patient Porters, Pharmacy Assistants, Social Service Assistants, X-Ray Assistants and all Patient Care Technical classifications as follows:

ECG Assistant EEG Assistant ECG Technician Cardiac Ultrasound Technician Cardiology Technologist Nursing Assistant (OR Technician) Pacemaker Technologist Ophthalmic Technician Pathology Attendant Physiological Lab Tech Renal Dialysis Technician In 2005, all Clerical classifications not yet at their target rates, Power Engineers and Maintenance, Trades, Stores and Transportation classifications will receive pay equity adjustments.

Care Aides — who received a $105 monthly pay equity adjustment last year — and Activity Workers receive adjustments in both years totaling $80 and $89 a month respectively and bring these classifications to within 2.5 per cent of their pay equity targets.

After next year’s pay equity adjustments Care Aides, Activity Aides, Housekeeping and Laundry staff and Cooks and Food Service Supervisors are still below their pay equity targets. It’s expected that these classifications will be increased to their pay equity targets through the pay equity process in the next collective agreement.

HEU and its bargaining partners are also pressing for targeted exemptions to the 11 per cent rollback contained in Bill 37 to address a looming recruitment and retention crisis.

Last week, the unions provided HEABC with a detailed list of these job classifications including LPNs, the Patient Care Technical family, IT jobs in computer and data processing, Trades, Maintenance Supervisors, Biomedical Electronics Technologists, Power Engineers, MW5 classifications and above as well as all classifications in the Miscellaneous job family (e.g. Media Services Techs).