Health care workers poised to strike


Christine Wood / Coast Reporter
May 8, 2014 12:34 PM

Health Care workers across B.C. have voted 96 per cent in favour of striking, and how talks proceed this week will impact whether or not they’ll walk.

“Our primary objective is to secure a negotiated agreement, and we will be returning to the bargaining table on Thursday [May 8],” Mike Old, the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) communications director, told Coast Reporter Tuesday. “Mediator Vince Ready will be assisting the parties. Should the unions decide to exercise their strike mandate at a later time, the labour code requires a minimum notice of 72 hours, and essential service levels must be in place.”

There are about 550 HEU members on the Sunshine Coast (between Langdale and Lund) covered under the Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA) of health care workers, which has voted in favour of a strike if a negotiated settlement can’t be reached soon.

“The key issues at the bargaining table are employment security, protection of benefits and improved health and safety provisions,” a press release from the HEU stated. “The FBA is also seeking changes to the ambulance service that would improve and enhance paramedics’ abilities to provide patient care.”

The negotiations between the provincial government and the FBA cover the largest bargaining unit in B.C.’s public sector with a total of 47,000 workers in hospitals, residential care facilities, emergency health services and logistics and supply operations.

Workers include care aides, paramedics, dispatchers, nursing unit clerks, maintenance workers, rehabilitation assistants, administrative staff, cleaning and dietary staff and diagnostic specialists, among others.

FBA spokesperson Bonnie Pearson is hopeful the strike mandate delivered by union members last week will “focus all parties on reaching a negotiated settlement.” 

© Coast Reporter


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