Healthcare workers back to bargaining table

It was back to the bargaining table last Thursday as 47,000 health care workers province wide try for a new contract with the assistance of mediator Vince Ready.

The 11-union Facilities Bargaining Association announced that its members voted 96 per cent in favour of strike action after negotiations that began in January failed to produce an agreement.

FBA spokesperson Bonnie Pearson said she is hopeful that the strong strike mandate delivered by union members will focus all parties on reaching a negotiated settlement.

"Our objective is to negotiate a fair and respectful settlement that improves working and caring conditions on the front lines of our health care system," said Pearson, who is the secretarybusiness manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union, whose approximately 480 members at units at Cowichan District Hospital, Cairnsmore, Cowichan Lodge and Chemainus are anxiously watching the negotiations.

"With the assistance of Mr.

Ready, it should become clear whether we can achieve this outcome at the bargaining table," she said.

The main issues at the table are job security, protection of benefits, health and safety and changes to the ambulance service.

The current collective agreement with the Health Employers Association of B.C. expired on March 31. The current round of bargaining began on Jan. 14 and broke off in late March.