VANCOUVER, Jan. 27, 2012 /CNW/ - Bargaining for British Columbia's over 13,000 workers employed in community health kicked off this week. Talks commenced between the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) and the Health Employers' Association of BC (HEABC) on January 23 with the exchange of opening remarks and the initial tabling of proposals.
The CBA presented a summary of the priorities identified by health care workers and proposals related to housekeeping issues, harassment and bullying. On Thursday the CBA also tabled proposals related to employer and union relations.
BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) president Darryl Walker noted that under the net zero mandate imposed by the provincial government in the last round of bargaining, health care workers' wages have not kept up with the rate of inflation.
"Over the last two years, our members have suffered a real wage cut of 5 percent. What we need this time around is a fair and reasonable agreement for our members that takes into consideration the sacrifices that they had to make in 2010 bargaining," said Walker.
At the BCGEU bargaining conference in December 2011, members identified wage increases, job security, benefits and scheduling as their main contract priorities.
Walker also spoke about the importance of community health and the savings that the sector provides in provincial health care spending.
"Home support services keep seniors and other clients in their homes and out of expensive acute care beds," said Walker.
"If our government invests in community health and in recruitment and retention of workers in the sector, it will save big money in other areas of the health care system."
Negotiations resume in Vancouver on February 6th for four more weeks of bargaining. Additional dates have been set through to the end of March.
The CBA represents health care workers who provide home-based medically-related support services to seniors and persons with disabilities. Workers in the sector also provide community-based health services including mental health and addictions services and administrative support to home support agencies and health authorities.
BCGEU is the largest union in the CBA with over 8,000 members. The other unions in the association are UFCW 1518, HEU, CUPE, HSA, USWA and CLAC.
For further information:
Erin Sikora at 778-238-0300