Provincial Executive puts locals, members at center of efforts for anti-contracting out agreements

  • HEABC lifts ban on local agreements
  • IHA, NHA look for deep concessions, VIHA rejects talks

The Hospital Employees’ Union Provincial Executive has taken steps to make sure local officers and union members are at the center of ongoing efforts to negotiate alternatives to contracting out and privatization.

The PE has established criteria for negotiating local agreements to vary the facilities subsector collective agreement after B.C.’s health employers lifted its ban on such agreements August 20.

Criteria for local agreements include:

  • Local and PE reps on negotiating committee;
  • Local agreements expire when new facilities subsector contract reached;
  • Terms won’t exceed those in the framework agreement rejected last May; and
  • Subject to PE vote and ratification by affected members.

Over the past few days, HEU and the Facilities Subsector Bargaining Association have been approached by the Interior Health Authority and the Northern Health Authority with proposals that contain substantial concessions with no guarantees to stop contracting out.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority has turned down an offer to discuss alternatives to contracting out the work of more than 1,000 housekeeping and food service workers.

“Clearly, health authorities have been directed by government to achieve substantial savings on their wage bill in the period leading up to the expiry of the current collective agreement,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“While we remain hopeful that we can find ways to work with local employers and health authorities to prevent job losses, the Health Employers Association of B.C.’s guidelines for reaching such agreements are very restrictive.

“That’s why the circumstances facing individual locals or groups of locals are the most important factor in deciding whether to proceed,” adds Allnutt.

“Clearly, local agreements must provide a level of job security to our members that would not otherwise exist.”

HEABC has also been clear that local discussions would not reverse privatization contracts that have already been awarded.

Allnutt says HEABC’s decision to lift its ban on local talks may assist in HEU’s efforts to preserve jobs in independently operated long-term care facilities that are affiliated to health authorities.

“Up to now, efforts by local employers to work with our members have been undermined by the HEABC’s refusal to permit local agreements,” says Allnutt. “That barrier has now been removed.”

An HEU delegation that included local reps and PE met with IHA officials August 27 where they received a proposal that fell far short of providing any real job security. The union will respond to the health authority’s proposal on September 5.

In Prince George, an HEU delegation that includes local reps, PE members and staff will meet with the NHA August 28.

The Provincial Executive’s criteria for handling local negotiations were sent to HEU locals in a special mailing on August 22.