The Health Care Bargaining Council, including the members of your bargaining committee, met on Monday, October 3rd to exchange bargaining proposals with employer representatives.
This is a very unique round of bargaining because of legislation passed by the Liberal government, which significantly impacts the way we bargain.
As a result of the new Health Authorities Act, all four unions (NSGEU, CUPE, Unifor & NSNU) now have to bargain in four Bargaining Councils, which means we have to merge multiple collective agreements into a single set of bargaining proposals.
This has proven to be a complicated and time-consuming process. In addition, the threat of wage restraint legislation (Bill 148) inhibits our ability to bargain freely, because it dictates wages, including a two year freeze, and freezes your retirement allowance on a go-forward basis. We are concerned that the shadow cast over bargaining by this legislation will make it difficult to reach an agreement that members will be comfortable ratifying.
However, all unions are working together to navigate this new structure and ensure we are prepared to bargain the best possible agreement on behalf of all of our members. Premier Stephen McNeil gave his personal commitment that healthcare workers would not lose benefits as a result of his government’s restructuring process, and our proposals were developed with that commitment in mind.
As you will see, these are extensive proposals which amend key provisions of our agreements including Job Security and Job Posting, among a host of others. These amendments are necessary to reflect the fact there is now a province-wide Employer in NSHA and the IWK.
The employer’s proposals did not include key provisions and language from CUPE, Unifor and NSNU collective agreements, as well as NSGEU agreements at the IWK and in Public Health Addictions and Continuing Care. These are important provisions which were fairly negotiated over decades and reflect the different experiences and history of these members and unions. The Employers at the IWK and NSHA also indicated they will table their proposals on key issues like sick leave at a later date, so it is not yet clear what they plan in several of these key areas.
The exchange of proposals was cordial, but there is still much work to be done. We have additional bargaining dates scheduled for October 13th and 14th; November 22nd and 23rd; December 7th and 8th; January 10th, 11th and 12th; and February 7th, 8th and 9th. We will provide you with updated information as bargaining continues. If you have questions or concerns about the bargaining process, please contact a member of your bargaining committee:
Patrick Daigle (Local 100), firstname.lastname@example.org
Monika Harvey (Local 193), email@example.com
Donna Kline (Local 122), firstname.lastname@example.org
Allan Lapierre (Local 100), email@example.com
Peter Perry (Local 122), firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Smith-MacDonald (Local 100), email@example.com