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Meaningful consultation is key in any workplace restructuring

The Report: August 1999 vol.20 num.2

by CINDY STEWART

With all of the workplace restructuring that has occurred in healthcare and social services, HSA members are frequently called upon to participate inemployer-driven -consultation" processes. The processes are characterized as anopportunity for health care and social services workers to have input into restructuringinitiatives and provide feedback with respect to the operational impact.

While HSA welcomes any opportunities for employee input (after all, itis guaranteed in our collective agreements), we must ensure that this kind of consultationis meaningful. In other words, we must ensure that employers do not simply -gothrough the motions" or co-opt HSA members into initiatives that will be destructivefor the system and its employees. Whether its program management or contract reform,HSA members know all too well that ill-conceived restructuring efforts can have direconsequences for the system and those who deliver the services.

For this reason, HSA has developed a document entitled PolicyGuidelines for HSAs Participation in Workplace Restructuring Programs(reproduced below). This document clearly lays out the conditions under which HSA willparticipate in task forces, focus groups or any other mechanism designed for employeeconsultation. The primary purpose of these guidelines is to protect the integrity of ourcollective agreement within the context of consultative processes. However, I believe inthe long run, they will also discourage employers from hastily embarking on restructuringinitiatives without appropriate consideration of the impact on workers, patients andclients.

As part of our commitment to good public policy and planning, HSA isalso working with the Canadian Centre forPolicy Alternatives (CCPA) to analyze the impact of various restructuring initiativeson public services and employees. Through a labour-sponsored research desk, we hope togather data that we can use to inform the public about the value of public services andthe dangers of a -quick fix."

Over the next few months, we will update you on the work of theCCPAs Public Interest Research Desk. In the meantime, members who have questionsabout the Policy Guidelines for HSAs Participation in Workplace RestructuringPrograms should contact their chief steward.

Policy guidelines for HSA's participation in workplace restructuring programs
HSA will participate in processes regarding workplace changes (i.e. PFC, program management, and amalgamations) in accordance with the following guidelines and principles:

Objectives
Protect the integrity of the Collective Agreement
· To protect the role of the chief paramedical, especially staff supervision, teaching and evaluation
· To protect classifications and positions
Protect the integrity of professional disciplines
· To maintain profession-specific job descriptions
· To protect the standards of practice for all HSA disciplines
· To prevent crosstraining/multiskilling of HSA jobs
· To ensure members of professional disciplines are clinically supervised by practitioners of the same profession
Ensure the continuation of quality patient care and safety

Guidelines and principles
· To have HSA members involved in planning process
· That HSA representation is sanctioned by HSA
· To meet on employers time
· To ensure access to information for informed participation
· To have adequate preparation and analysis before implementation of any model
· To reach decisions by consensus
· To include analysis of impact on workload

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