Employers wage offer -extremely disappointing"

Union negotiators are calling the wage package tabled today by HEABC -extremely disappointing" and say it will put health science professionals in BC even further behind their counterparts in Alberta and Ontario.

The package includes a general wage increase of 1.5 per cent each year for four years plus an additional .85 per cent each year for those on Schedule A, as well as pharmacists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. The package includes no provision for transferring the LTD plan back to the employer.

-This offer is totally inadequate and does nothing to move us toward a settlement," says Chief Negotiator Ron Ohmart.

-Our bargaining association came into this round of negotiations with a clear and focused mandate ... a competitive wage increase for all, rectifying the wage split and transferring the LTD plan to the employer," Ohmart says.

-We are absolutely shocked that HEABC has tabled a proposal that not only fails to meet any of these objectives, but will actually widen the gap between BC and other provinces. The general wage increase does not even keep up with the cost of living."

Ohmart says the unions have spent years working cooperatively with health authorities to improve the health care system and quite rightly expect a contract that recognizes the sacrifices they have made.

He also points out that nearly every other province in Canada has negotiated contracts for health science professionals that include a minimum wage increase of 3 per cent each year.

While the employers wage package mentions the possibility of market adjustments for some hard-to-fill positions, it is unclear which professions would be eligible or where the money would come from.

-We have done everything we can to meet the governments deadline but time is running out," Ohmart says. -HEABC and the government need to come to the table with a package that demonstrates they value health science professionals and their essential role on the health care team."

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