Comparability appeal to be heard Dec. 21

Meanwhile, negotiations on applying the award have been proceeding As HEU continues negotiations with health employers on how to implement a major comparability decision, B.C.'s finance minister has acknowledged the province's obligation to fund the award. While releasing the province's second quarter financial reports on Nov. 25, Finance Minister Paul Ramsey acknowledged that Stephen Kelleher's comparability decision could cost $100 million more than budgeted in the 1999/2000 budget. "We're pleased that the government has indicated a commitment to fund the pay equity ruling," says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. "It means that Victoria will avoid some of the same mistakes made by Ottawa in delaying its $3 billion pay equity settlement with federal government employees." "At the same time, Minister Ramsey and his government should instruct health employers to stop delaying the implementation of the settlement before its financial impact grows even larger." The Health Employers Association of BC has appealed Kelleher's award to the B.C. Labour Relations Board which has agreed to a hearing on the matter Dec. 21. "I'm really pleased that the matter will be considered reasonably quickly by the board," says Allnutt. "We're looking forward to a confirmation of Kelleher's ruling so that this final chapter in HEU's fight for comparability can be closed." Even though HEABC has appealed the award, ongoing discussions have been taking place with HEU representatives on the nuts and bolts of implementing the comparability adjustments. Allnutt says that proposals and counterproposals were exchanged during three days of talks in November. The union's main objective is to distribute the comparability adjustments as widely as possible. The total value of Kelleher's Sept. 21 award, retroactive to 1996, is estimated at about $110 million not including maternity/paternity plan improvements worth approximately $7 million annually. This is the second phase of comparability adjustments. In 1994, an interim comparability adjustment valued at 3.7 per cent of payroll was applied across all classifications including those with no comparability gap. The more recent award will likely be the biggest single economic gain for HEU members since the high inflation 1980's. The adjustments will be applied to HEU's pay equity targets.