HEU seeks extension to Bill 37 compensation arbitration deadline

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The Hospital Employees’ Union is asking the provincial government to extend the deadline by which the union can opt for an arbitrator to determine how compensation cuts imposed under Bill 37 will be distributed.

Under last week’s legislation which imposed a collective agreement on health care workers in the facilities subsector, health unions can opt for a straight 11 per cent cut to the hourly wage or ask an arbitrator to distribute a ten per cent cut among wages, overtime, premiums, on-call differentials, statutory holidays, vacations, leaves and health and welfare benefits.

In the legislation, the deadline to request the arbitrated option is May 13 but the union has asked for additional time so that it can put the issue to a membership vote.

“The Campbell Liberals have robbed HEU members of the right to vote on this collective agreement,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“But under Bill 37 we can at least let members decide on whether they’ll take compensation cuts as a straight pay cut or let an arbitrator decide on benefits and wages will be cut.”

If members decide on arbitration — a decision would be handed down within 60 days. In either case — arbitration or straight wage rollback — the effective date of the cuts would be May 1.

If an extension is granted, a vote would be conducted in the next few weeks on the question: Are you in favour of going to arbitration on wage and benefit concessions under Bill 37?

Further background on this question will be distributed, but the Provincial Executive is not making a recommendation either way.