#21Health unions table revised position

Bargaining bulletin

BCGEU settlement will positively impact our talks

As HEU members gear up for strike votes starting later this week, health care unions tabled a revised position on the key bargaining priorities in a bid to create momentum as negotiations with the Health Employers Association went on into the late evening March 5.

The unions fine-tuned a number of proposals on training and other language issues as talks resumed yesterday. However, HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt says concession demands and a continued delay by health employers to table a wage offer for community caregivers continue to be sore points. Talks are set all this week.

On the strike vote front, while a small handful of votes in isolated communities will be held March 7, HEU members will be out in full force to cast ballots starting on International Women’s Day, March 8. The union is urging members to vote yes to press employers to focus on achieving solutions at the bargaining table.

Meanwhile, Allnutt said that the settlement reached over the weekend between Victoria and the BCGEU will have a positive impact on health care talks.

The three-year deal covering 32,000 direct government employees includes employment security protection; wage boosts of $0.70 per hour in year one, 2.5 per cent in year two and a cost of living increase in the final year; and additional recruitment and retention adjustments for targeted classifications equal to half a per cent of payroll in each of the three years. “This settlement should provide a lot of momentum in our discussions with health employers,” says Allnutt. “Clearly it shows that our wage position is closer to the mark than the 2.5 per cent offer over three years tabled last week by HEABC.”

Allnutt also saluted fellow CUPE health care workers in New Brunswick who stuck in tough last weekend to negotiate a better agreement against the threat of vindictive government back-to-work legislation and huge fines.