Union tables opening proposal for comparability pay equity adjustments on a "great day for women"

Follow lead of Chretien, end the delays and pay up, HEU urges health employers On the same momentous day the Chretien government reached a formal agreement to pay out more than $3.6 billion in long awaited equity adjustments for thousands of federal government employees, HEU tabled its first proposal on how to allocate almost $26 million in additional pay equity adjustments won by the union in arbitrator Stephen Kelleher's final decision on the issue of comparability of pay rates with BCGEU. Ottawa's decision to stop delaying and make good on its obligations to end wage discrimination in the federal civil service made Oct. 29 a "great day for women in Canada," says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. And at the meeting with the Health Employers Association of B.C., HEU called on HEABC and the provincial government to follow suit, and urged employers to withdraw their appeal of Kelleher's Sept. 21 ruling. (There's still no word from the Labour Relations Board on how it will deal with HEABC's Oct. 8 appeal application.) In his historic ruling, Kelleher ordered employers to pay wage adjustments equal to three per cent of payroll, or $25.8 million a year, retroactive to April 1, 1996. The arbitrator also determined that adjustments be made to the target pay equity rates set out in the job value comparison plan covering HEU members in hospitals and long term care facilities across the province. The goal of HEU's opening proposal to implement the adjustments, says Allnutt, was to get as much money for as many members as possible. In a proposal broadened from the union's final written submission to Kelleher earlier this year, about 91 per cent of union members would be slated to receive adjustments. Meetings between the two sides are set to resume later in November, when HEABC will respond to the union's proposal, and make their own counter offer. In a letter of congratulations sent to Daryl Bean, the president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which spearheaded the lengthy struggle to eliminate wage discrimination within the federal government, HEU president Fred Muzin saluted the "tenacity and perseverance" of PSAC members who have earned a "well deserved victory" after their 16 year struggle. Meanwhile, HEU is buoyed by the results of a recent public opinion survey on pay equity issues related to our comparability victory. The poll shows thereís strong support for reducing the wait for HEU members to eliminate gender-based wage discrimination in health care, and equally strong support for special measures to reduce that wait, even if it means the government has to increase health care funding. Poll results are as follows: PAY EQUITY POLLING RESULTS 1. Currently there is a wage gap of up to 19 per cent between health care workers, who are primarily women, and government employees in similar occupations in other sectors. The provincial government and employers of health care workers have acknowledged this gender wage gap and have agreed to make annual pay equity adjustments to close the gap. Approximately how many years do you believe it should take to eliminate the age gap? 5 YEARS OR LESS - 68% 6 TO 10 YEARS - 21% 11 TO 15 YEARS - 3% LONGER - 2.3% (don't know - 7%) 2. Currently, many women health care workers will have to wait until 2020 to eliminate the wage gap. Do you agree or disagree that measures should be taken to reduce the wait? AGREE - 85% DISAGREE - 11% (don't know - 4%) Do you agree with reducing the wait to eliminate the wage gap even if it requires increased health care spending by government? YES - 83% NO - 10% (don't know - 7%)