#P1 Paramedical professionals begin bargaining
Talks for a new collective agreement covering 13,000 paramedical professionals kicked off January 13 with the multi-union Paramedical Professional Bargaining Association and health employers sitting down at a preliminary meeting. At the meeting, both parties introduced general issues but did not exchange nor discuss specific proposals.The PPBA told the Health Employers Association of B.C. that paramedical professionals are fully committed to reaching a fair collective agreement that recognizes the needs of employers and employees. HEABC was clear that cost savings to meet tight budgets was its top priority. Health employers identified three areas as key to negotiations: the economic climate, flexibility in the contract, and the changing structure of the health care system. HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt says that the task before them is a difficult one. “But despite all the damage the Campbell Liberal government has done to labour relations and health care delivery in the past three years, paramedical professionals and their unions have continued to work with local management to find ways to accommodate the changing structures in health care in a tight fiscal climate. “I am hopeful that commitment to problem-solving, which has worked at the local level, will translate into productive negotiations at the provincial level,” Allnutt adds. HEU will be holding its Wage Policy Conference February 8, 9 and 10. The PPBA bargaining committee will finalize its proposals on February 18 and 19. Further bargaining dates have not been set, but talks are expected to begin by the end of February. The current collective agreement, imposed by the provincial government in July 2001, expires March 31, 2004. The Health Sciences Association, the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Professional Employees’ Association and the Hospital Employees’ Union make up the PPBA.