Unions table package of proposals in health science professionals bargaining, but all signals are that talks grinding to a halt (link fixed)

In an effort to kick-start contract talks for health science professionals, this week the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association tabled a comprehensive list of proposals ... with the exception of a wage proposal.

-We made a valiant effort to move things along this week," said HSBBA chief negotiator Jeanne Meyers. -We tabled a comprehensive package of proposals for changes to the collective agreement that would address a number of issues affecting our members."

-We have been at this for months, and while weve had interesting discussions, the time has come to move talks along and get down to the business at hand ... hard bargaining to get to a new contract," she said.

-We are trying to move things along and HEABC appears to need to seek approval from somewhere higher up the chain of command every step of the way, which this week resulted in HEABC tabling a very limited set of proposals.  The process has been made even more uncertain by yesterdays resignation of the Minister of Finance, who sets the public sector bargaining mandate. With the continued uncertainty on the other side of the table, its becoming almost impossible to call the process were involved in real bargaining," she said.

The parties are scheduled to return to the bargaining table September 11, and Meyers said the unions will be looking for signs that HEABC is ready to get serious about negotiating a new agreement.

HSPBAs package of proposals tabled this week include:

• A proposal to expand accrual of seniority to any unpaid leave due to illness, injury or leave protected by an enumerated ground in the BC Human Rights Code.
• Language to have promotional increases and increases as temporary relief in a higher rated position calculated on a step to step basis
• Severance allowance ... one week pay for every year of service, with the requirement of ten years service eliminated.  Employees who are laid off due to reorganization or redundancy get a supplementary severance allowance of 3 weeks for every year of service
• Expanded rights to education leave and elimination of the language making it subject to budgetary and operational requirements
• Amendment to Parental leave to make it gender neutral, applicable to same sex parents, and to provide adoptive parents with the same rights as natural parents
• Special leave ... include 7.2 hours for a serious household or domestic emergency
• Include pension contributions in the benefits which accrue during leaves totaling 144 hours or less
• Vacation carryover for parents on parental leave
• Expanded meal breaks
• Transparent assignment of additional shifts and overtime with enhanced emphasis on seniority
• Overtime to be payable at double-time not time and a half
• Employers required to provide means of transportation for employees required to travel on employer business or pay car allowance and parking, etc where employees must use own vehicle.  Increase in mileage fee paid
• Increases in shift premiums consistent with the Nurses Bargaining Association collective agreement
• Improved language to protect employees from violent or aggressive clients
• A provincial anti-violence committee
• A process by which the majority of employees in a work unit may endeavor to change current work schedules.
• Relief assignments to be offered on the basis of seniority

HEABC tabled four proposals:

• A housekeeping amendment to seniority
• Housekeeping amendment to Article 1
• Housekeeping amendment to Attachment B
• Increased probationary period for part-time employees

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