B.C. medical professionals voting on offer

Early returns negative for “net-zero” package

The details of a tentative agreement between Health Employers’ Association of British Columbia (HEABC) and the multi-union Health Sciences Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) reached in December have been released.

The tentative agreement covers 17,000 healthcare professionals, including medical technicians and technologists, physiotherapists, social workers, and pharmacists, and runs until March 31, 2012.

Under the province’s “net zero” compensation policy, the agreement does not have wage increases. However, there have been some balances changes, seeing members give up vacation to get professional development money, modest benefit improvements and greater job security.

The unions are putting the best face they can on the deal. According to the Health Sciences Association of British Columbia (HSABC), “In a very difficult bargaining climate, your bargaining committee has achieved practical and pragmatic contract enhancements that look to the future.”

Several other provincial unions and bargaining associations have come to terms with the government under this scheme and there seems a climate of resignation. Some unions have come up with creative ways to achieve their goals, but the province’s mandate has not been overcome.

Already, one local of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) at the Fraser Health Authority has voted 100% to reject the agreement. Several other CUPE locals are urging their members to follow suit.

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