HEABC won't put layoffs on hold despite requesting mediation

Bargaining bulletin

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The Health Employers Association of B.C. has not moved off its demand for massive wage and benefit concessions and still refuses to put contracting out and layoffs on hold despite requesting the intervention of a Labour Relations Board mediator Thursday.

The multi-union bargaining committee told LRB-appointed mediator Stephen Rinfret on Friday afternoon that HEABC's continuing campaign of layoffs during contract talks was contributing to a poor bargaining climate and that their demand for massive contract concessions over three years was counterproductive.

Health employers' outstanding demands for wage and benefit concessions amount to nearly $900 million over three years.

"One would have thought, that having requested mediation, health employers were ready to bring a more reasonable position to the table," says Hospital Employees' Union secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt, who speaks for the multi-union bargaining association.

"But as it stands, we appear to be no closer to a settlement today than we were yesterday."

The mediated discussions adjourned Friday evening with health unions urging Rinfret to further explore with health employers a reconsideration of their bargaining position in an effort to kick-start talks that have been stalled since April 2.

Rinfret will contact both parties again on Monday.

In the meantime, HEU is continuing to press for the finalization of essential services levels. And in response to the union bargaining association's application for an April 21 deadline for setting these levels, the LRB has set next Tuesday as the deadline for submissions on the issue from health unions and employers.