News Release on Behalf of the: Nova Scotia Acute Care Employers Bargaining Committees



    HALIFAX, Aug. 17 /CNW/ - Acute care employers in eight of the province's
District Health Authorities say the Canadian Union of Public Employees' recent
reference to a breakdown of contract talks across the province is misleading
and incorrect. In a Media Release on August 12, the union stated that contract
talks "for some 3,500 CUPE hospital workers across Nova Scotia have broken
off." However, negotiations for some of the bargaining units in the Districts
have not even started.
    Contract negotiations began in April. So far, talks with 13 of the 18
locals represented by CUPE have taken place or are underway at individual
bargaining tables. Initial meetings to exchange contract proposals are
scheduled with 5 of the remaining CUPE locals.
    During negotiations last week, the union indicated to the Employer
negotiating committees at two separate tables that they felt negotiations had
reached an impasse. In each case, the union has asked the Nova Scotia
Department of Labour and Workforce Development to appoint a Conciliation
Officer to assist with negotiations. The impasse was declared for the Service
group of workers at Colchester East Hants Health Authority and the Clerical
employees at the Cape Breton District Health Authority. The union is also
expected to ask for conciliation in talks with the Pictou County Health
Authority.
    While the Employer's Negotiating Committees respect the union's right to
make application for a conciliator, they believe this approach by the union
was premature. "We feel we made significant progress in addressing the union
contract proposals," says Pat Lee, CEO for the Pictou County Health Authority.
"With more discussion, further issues could have been resolved at this early
stage of negotiations. We also look forward to continuing contract talks and
reaching agreements at these specific tables with the assistance of appointed
conciliators."
    The union leadership has also continued to express concern with respect
to the process being used for this round of bargaining, however, it was the
union's choice that bargaining be held at 18 separate tables.
    Previously, the employers and the union have voluntarily participated at
one common, provincial bargaining table. Before bargaining began this time,
the Employers across the province proposed to use two negotiating tables (one
for service and clerical workers and one for the healthcare group). Employers
believe that a more focused approach to bargaining will ensure that all
employees are treated fairly and also allow the flexibility to address the
unique concerns of distinct employee groups. This concept was rejected by the
union and despite subsequent efforts by the Employers to address the union's
concerns and to reach a compromise; there has been no agreement on a
provincial process.
    The employers remain committed to negotiating collective agreements that
are fair to both the employees and employers. The goal is to achieve a balance
and adjust to employee priorities, ongoing economic and workplace challenges
and the needs of the people we serve.

    CUPE represents 3500 workers in 18 bargaining units across the province.
This includes employees in service, clerical and healthcare positions. The
employers' bargaining teams include management and Human Resources
representatives from the districts. The Nova Scotia Association of Health
Organizations (NSAHO) coordinates contract negotiations for the employers.




For further information:

For further information: Employers Bargaining Committees Media Contact:
Greg Boone, Director, Public Affairs, Cape Breton District Health Authority,
(902) 567-7791 or pager (902) 567-9377

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NOVA SCOTIA ACUTE CARE EMPLOYERS BARGAINING COMMITTEE

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