Health unions willing to move if layoffs put on hold, HEU tells Doney

News release

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A negotiated settlement for 43,000 hospital and long-term care workers across the province is achievable and legislation should be avoided at all costs, say B.C.’s health care unions.

Chris Allnutt, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union, says that the multi-union bargaining committee told deputy labour minister Lee Doney in a meeting Tuesday night that the union is prepared to change the nature of its job action and reconsider their current proposals in return for a hold on layoffs while talks are underway.

“Specifically, we told the deputy labour minister that health employers should stop the clock on the notice periods for those who have received layoff notices during talks and not initiate anything new,” says Allnutt.

“Let’s be perfectly clear — we are not asking for a reversal of existing privatization contracts as a pre-condition to kickstarting talks. We are saying that employers must stop firing workers.”

Allnutt says the union is prepared to move off its position if there is a commitment from the Health Employers Association of B.C. to come to the table with a revised package that includes employment security.

“HEABC’s current demand for nearly $900 million in concessions over three years is out of the ballpark.”

Allnutt adds that these are reasonable moves that would lead to a climate where productive talks are possible. “Our goal has always been a negotiated settlement and we hope employers are willing to bargain seriously.

“We had a straight-forward exchange of views with Mr. Doney,” concludes Allnutt. “We asked him to relate to the politicians in Victoria that we are committed to achieving a negotiated collective agreement — the first in the hospital and long-term care sector since this government was elected.”

-30- Contact: Mike Old, communications director, 604 828 6771 (cell) Margi Blamey, communications officer, 604 785 5324 (cell)