#7Health talks take on 'constructive' tone

Bargaining bulletin

Unions focus in on employment security, safe workplaces; health employers withdraw sick bank demand On the fifth day of contract talks for 60,000 health services and support workers, the unions’ chief spokesperson says he’s pleased with the constructive tone coming from the employers’ side of the table.

Both the unions and health employers followed up on last week’s opening positions by tabling specific language proposals. The union bargaining association fleshed out and focussed its proposals on employment security and safe workplaces.

“I was impressed by the willingness of the employer to seriously consider our contract proposals related to employment security,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “It’s a refreshing change from some bargaining sessions we’ve had in the past decade.”

The Health Employers Association of BC also removed one of their concession demands from the table. As part of their opening package, health employers proposed slashing sick leave accumulation by 26 days. Under heavy resistance from the union side, they withdrew that demand this week.

“It’s a good start,” says Allnutt, “ but we need to get past the employers’ concession demands in order to focus these negotiations on real solutions that will improve the delivery of health care to British Columbians.”

Negotiations to date have focussed on issues affecting both facilities and community subsector health care workers. Those common discussions will continue through the next bargaining dates scheduled for Jan. 23 - 24 and followed by two days of talks on community specific issues on Jan 25-26.