April 13, 2012
Negotiations for a new contract covering 43,000 health care workers continued this past week with detailed discussions on a number of non-monetary issues that have been tabled over the last several weeks.
The multi-union Facilities Bargaining Association will continue those discussions with the Health Employers Association of B.C. next week before breaking the week of April 23. Both sides have agreed to further bargaining sessions in May.
Neither side has yet tabled a compensation package covering wages and benefits, though the unions’ chief spokesperson Bonnie Pearson predicts that they will be difficult discussions.
“Under the so-called cooperative gains mandate, health employers claim they have very little room to provide compensation increases,” says Pearson.
“This has led to a lot of speculation and rumour about HEABC’s intentions but to this point, we have not received any demands on compensation or benefits from them. And we have yet to table our own proposals in these areas.”
Pearson says the FBA unions are hoping that HEABC will be prepared to focus on a number of outstanding non-monetary issues next week so that negotiators can begin to address compensation improvements.
More than 270 occupations are represented in the talks including care aides, licensed practical nurses, pharmacy technicians, admitting clerks, medical transcriptionists, trades and maintenance workers, sterile supply technicians, lab assistants, rehab assistants, dietary staff and many others.
HEU represents about 85 per cent of health care workers in the FBA. Another 14 per cent are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 873, the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 882/882H. Eight other unions in the association represent one per cent of workers