Unions gear up as talks start Dec. 19

Bargaining bulletin

HEU to mount radio ad campaign on key bargaining solutions for better Medicare

Contract talks for 60,000 health and support workers in community services and health care facilities will get underway Dec. 19, when leaders representing 10 unions and the Health Employers Association of B.C. will meet to establish a general framework for negotiations and identify key themes.

Then the union and employer sides will roll up their sleeves with 10 bargaining dates set between Jan. 10 and Feb. 1. Contracts for health and support workers expire March 31, and HEU bargaining spokesperson Chris Allnutt says the goal is to have a new single agreement in place before the expiry date.

“Clearly, a settlement must include a fair wage increase for all health care workers,” says Allnutt. “But we’ll also be tabling bargaining demands to improve the quality of health care services for British Columbians that are designed to make Medicare better.

“And achieving parity for community care givers is also a top priority. Government and employers have accepted the concept of parity and made some moves in previous contracts to eliminate the huge wage and benefit gap. This time, we must establish a clear time frame to achieve it.”

Meanwhile, HEU is turning to the essential services front. HEU servicing reps will be working with local leaders to kick start the essential service process at facilities across the province.

To set a constructive tone for the talks, Allnutt said HEU will be mounting a province-wide radio ad campaign for eight days starting Dec. 26 highlighting HEU’s bargaining proposals to improve Medicare.

And he encouraged all HEU members with e-mail addresses to send them to the union and become part of the union’s rapid bargaining information system. You’ll receive immediate bargaining updates, and all members who submit their e-mail address will be eligible to win an HEU jacket. The draw will be made at the beginning of February.