No movement from HEABC on contracting out, little to say on concessions package

Bargaining bulletin

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Health employers returned to the bargaining table March 4 but they didn’t bring much to talk about. They’re still refusing to stop-the-clock on layoffs or table a more reasonable set of bargaining proposals.

On March 2, the Hospital Employees’ Union and its bargaining partners asked the Health Employers Association of B.C. to withdraw more than 100 pages of concession demands that included wage rollbacks, cuts to sick leave and long-term disability plans and slashed vacation.

Instead, health employers offered minor adjustments to their package and told the unions that privatization and contracting out would continue during bargaining.

“We remain ready for serious bargaining,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “But in order for us to engage in productive negotiations, employers must stop threatening our members with pink slips and concession demands that go to the heart of our contract.

“I’m hoping that health employers will recognize that they must exert a little more effort towards restoring trust in collective bargaining,” adds Allnutt. “In the meantime, we’ll be considering the best way to move talks forward.”

Health employers have announced 2500 layoffs since serving notice to bargain. Contract talks began for 43,000 healthcare workers in B.C.’s hospital and long-tem care facilities on January 9. The contract expires March 31.