March 31, 2012 at 10:17 AM
Bargaining continues as Facilities agreement expires March 31
Negotiations for a renewed Facilities collective agreement picked up this past week as health unions tabled a substantial number of non-monetary proposals.
And although the collective agreement expires March 31, talks will resume next week and the terms of conditions of the current agreement will continue to be in force.
The multi-union Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA) has now tabled most of its non-monetary package including proposals on job security, environmental sustainability, health and safety, union rights and on a number of other issues.
The FBA has also tabled some proposals for the renewal of appendices to the collective agreement covering CUPE 873 and BCGEU members employed by the BC Ambulance Service.
HEU secretary-business manager Bonnie Pearson says that this week marked the first time that it seemed like the pace of negotiations was picking up.
“Our unions believed we would be much further ahead by the time the contract expired,” says Pearson. “But the very restrictive negotiating process that government has imposed on employers continues to hamper progress at the bargaining table.”
Pearson says that the FBA unions were supportive of the BCGEU’s decision to break off talks and seek a strike mandate for its members in the public service.
“We are in a different place right now and still have a number of issues to explore with the employer and we have not yet addressed monetary issues,” says Pearson. “So our talks will continue next week.”
The collective agreement covers a diverse health care team that includes workers in hospitals, nursing homes and diagnostic treatment centres as well as emergency health services and shared services such as logistics and supply operations.
More than 270 occupations are represented in the talks including care aides, licensed practical nurses, pharmacy technicians, OR booking clerks, medical transcriptionists, trades and maintenance workers, sterile supply technicians, pathology attendants, ophthalmic techs, housekeepers 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 covered by the talks.