#28 90 per cent say “yes”

Bargaining bulletin

HEU members deliver record-breaking strike mandate

When HEU’s bargaining committee returns to the table later today, they’ll do so armed with an convincing strike mandate that will be hard for health employers and government to ignore.

With votes counted for virtually every community and facilities workplace in the province, HEU members have voted 90 per cent in favour of possible job action — the highest result ever in province-wide bargaining.

“There can be no mistaking the commitment of HEU members to reaching a fair contract,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“And our local activists can be very proud of the result. Despite the short timeline to organize for the vote, turnout was high and the strength of the mandate exceeded our expectations.

“We have some difficult bargaining ahead of us,” adds Allnutt. “But the clear support of HEU members for our bargaining agenda will make the road to a negotiated settlement that much smoother.”

Over the weekend, the unions shifted their position on compensation issues but the employers’ response was “disappointing.” HEABC says the unions must accept concessions including cuts to injury-on-duty leave and they’ve tabled a compensation offer that falls below other recent settlements in the public sector.

Under HEABC’s plan, an end to discrimination against community caregivers would be delayed until the next decade. And employers have not yet responded to the unions’ plan to increase staffing ratios in long-term care.

There’s been no response to HEU’s suggestions on increased training for the nursing team and they’ve outright refused to discuss union proposals to improve worker input into scheduling issues.

Allnutt says the unions will bargain 24/7 to reach a settlement by month’s end. The combined 90 per cent strike mandate exceeded the strike vote results in HEU’s community and facilities locals in 1998 which were 83 and 81 per cent respectively.