Nurses announce new round of job actions

Overtime ban imposed 7 am Thursday to 7 am Sunday.

Community nurses will hold study sessions Monday to plan action for substantial boost in vehicle mileage rates.

The Nurses Bargaining Association today announced a new round of job action in its drive for a contract that will enable BC to compete globally to retain and recruit the nurses needed during the international nursing shortage.

The new round of job action is aimed at convincing the Health Employers Association of BC that its essential for progress to occur in negotiations. Talks are scheduled at the Delta Pacific Hotel in Richmond this Thursday and Friday.

Starting 7 am Thursday April 19, nurses will impose a province-wide ban on overtime. The ban will continue until 7 am Sunday April 22.

Then on Monday April 23, community nurses will hold province-wide, one-hour study sessions beginning at 9 am. The study sessions will allow nurses to discuss action to push for a substantial increase in the mileage allowance paid to nurses who are required to use their own vehicles to do their jobs. The current allowance of 38 cents per kilometre forces nurses to subsidize the health care system, because it doesnt come near to covering the costs of supplying and operating their own vehicles, which their employers require them to do. The initial monetary offer from HEABC would have increased the allowance by one penny per kilometre, an insult to nurses charged with delivering health care "closer to home".

The Thursday to Sunday overtime ban follows on the heels of a ban on overtime during the Easter weekend, an action that exposed just how overly-dependent the health care system has become on nurses working overtime. On last Saturday alone, health employers in small facilities requested special authorizations from the union for nurses to work overtime totalling the equivalent of more than 14 weeks of full time employment. That means the system needed the equivalent of 14 weeks of full-time extra staffing on just one weekend day, simply to meet care levels that are deemed essential services under the law of BC. That figure does not include locally-authorized overtime in major facilities such as Vancouver Hospital, St. Pauls, Childrens and Womens, Victoria General, Royal Jubilee and many other facilities on the Island and in the interior.

The experience exposed the critical need in BC for a competitive pay package for Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses to address the severe shortage of nurses.