Haldimand Norfolk Public Health Nurses Soon to be in Legal Strike Position

TORONTO, Oct. 13 /CNW/ - Public health nurses with the Haldimand Norfolk Public Health Unit have voted 90-per-cent in favour of a strike should an October 29 mediation session fail.

The nurses, members of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), have been without a contract since March 31, 2009.

"Our public health nurses and ONA have seen that the six days of bargaining with this employer have been unconstructive," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "With the second wave of a flu pandemic beginning in the province, this is a pivotal moment for communities, which require the expertise and dedication of our nurses more than ever before. Yet the county has approached bargaining with an agenda of penalizing our public health nurses. When comparing other health units from a total compensations package perspective, the Haldimand Norfolk nurses fall well below the average public health nurse in this province."

The county has introduced what it calls "county wage percentile" bargaining and has not provided ONA with a reasonable rationale with respect to using this process. Local representatives say the employer has been misrepresenting the remuneration of public health nurses by rolling in their pay equity settlement into the nurses' hourly rate of pay and failing to calculate total health and welfare benefits when comparing our nurses with other public health units. The county is also proposing to take away seniority rights in the collective agreement.

"Our Haldimand Norfolk public health nurses are very reasonable in their expectations," says Haslam-Stroud. "They're not demanding a pay increase that is any higher than those received by neighbouring public health nurses. Considering the valuable expertise that these nurses bring to the community - especially during this serious flu season and immunization period - we would have expected their employer to recognize the need for a reasonable contract."

Haldimand Norfolk public health nurses provide such services as outbreak protection (monitoring outbreaks), flu and hepatitis vaccine clinics, health education and promotion for families with new babies, as well as sexual health clinics and education for the municipality's residents.

ONA is the union representing 54,000 front-line registered nurses and allied health professionals and more than 10,000 nursing students providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information: For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association, Sheree Bond (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430, cell: (416) 986-8240; Melanie Levenson, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369

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