Members to vote on government-union framework agreement to lessen privatization impact

Comprehensive report with more details to follow soon

For the past several weeks, HEU and our partner unions in the facilities subsector have been in difficult negotiations with government. Our goal has been to minimize the impact on workers and the public health care system of privatization, service cuts and closures resulting from the Campbell government breaking legally binding collective agreements 15 months ago, while health unions pursue a consitutional challenge to Bill 29 in the courts.

A tentative framework agreement has emerged from those discussions. It has been reviewed by HEU’s Provincial Executive. Once details have been finalized, the Executive is recommending union members vote to accept the settlement in ratification votes set for April 28 to May 15.

Here’s a summary of the key elements in the deal, and the next steps ahead for HEU members in terms of the ratification process.

What can we gain through the deal?

  • Cap the number of positions that government can contract out to 3,500 FTEs (or app. 5,250 positions) instead of the government’s target of 13,600 FTEs (20,400 jobs). These positions could include those already targeted by RFPs. Or there could be other plans to contract out in additional areas. Either way, HEU will continue to fight any move to contract out.
  • Expand bumping provisions to provide greater protection for displaced workers.
  • A $65 million enhanced severance fund providing an additional 16 to 24 weeks of severance for eligible laid off workers retroactive to Jan. 29, 2002.
  • Special additional severance and retraining provisions for laid-off workers from affiliates—those facilities that are funded but not directly controlled by health authorities—that face complete closure.
  • An extended collective agreement expiring March 31, 2006 so that we can focus on our efforts to protect public health care.
What will we have to give up?
  • Forgo April 1, 2003 wage and pay equity increases of 4.4 per cent; plus future pay equity adjustments of one per cent in each of 2004 and 2005.
  • A $1 per hour wage reduction effective June 1, 2003 for these classifications (including supervisors): laundry, housekeeping and cleaners, security, food services, and maintenance (MW 1, 2, 3, 4 and GK 1,2,3,4,5).
  • For all other classifications, a $0.35 per hour wage reduction effective June 1, 2003.
  • 37.5 hour work week from 36 hours effective Sept. 30, 2003 with no increase in pay—which amounts to a four per cent decrease in hourly wage rates with no decrease in monthly pay for regular full time employees.
  • Reduce vacation entitlement by five days for the accumulation period starting July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2004, plus a consequential decrease in casual payment in lieu to 10.2 per cent from 12.2 per cent.
  • Eliminate super stat premiums, injury duty leave to be paid at 100 per cent of net pay, plus posting and scheduling changes.
What happens next? Union officials are pressing government and health authorities to finalize details so that it can be presented to members. Once this happens, HEU will prepare and distribute a comprehensive report. Local meetings will be scheduled to discuss the settlement. Then we’ll move to a ratification process between April 28 and May 15 in which HEU members will vote to accept or reject the agreement.