Your Bargaining Team met with the Employer for two days on October 5 and 6, 2023, in mediation facilitated by the Canada Industrial Labour Relations Board.
We were optimistic when some movement, although minimal, was made by the Employer. Your Union team remained focused on trying to come to a deal until Friday afternoon, when, after making us wait for a response for several hours, the Employer refused to respond to the Union’s last offer.
Your Employer still has several concessions and unacceptable conditions on the table. Among them are:
Article 22- Hours of Work: Your Union is trying to negotiate rest periods of 8 hours between shifts. We have made progress, except that HRHSSA insists that if the Employer calls you more than once during that 8 hours (read, 2, 3, even 4 or more time for responses that take less than one hour each) YOUR EMPLOYER can decide whether you have had enough sleep.
This is not only unacceptable, it is ridiculous. How could your Employer know whether you have fallen completely back to sleep after every interruption, and have had sufficient rest to return to the difficult job of caring for patients and all the other tasks our members at HRHSSA do to keep the hospital running safely and effectively?
The Union has negotiated that health and social services workers who visit clients in their homes are eligible for provisions of Article 67 - Uniforms and Protective Clothing which provides a small clothing allowance of only $250 per year. But when we prepared for bargaining way back in 2020, your Bargaining Team did not know that a new classification of employee called Family Preservation Workers would be established. Now all employees in that department who visit clients in their homes will be allowed the modest $250 annual clothing allowance except for the two Family Preservation Workers, because your Employer says the Union bargaining team is bargaining in bad faith to add them now. We are talking about $500/year out of HRHSSAS’s annual budget of more than $36-million to treat the Family Preservation Workers the same way as all other employees in their department are treated.
This is wrong. The health and safety of Family Preservation Workers who visit clients in their home is as important as the health and safety of all the other workers in the same department.
In Article 46 – Short Term Leave for Training Purposes, your Employer continues to insist that it can continue to pay you at straight time rates for training it offers only on your days of rest, even if that training is required by your job description.
The Union’s proposal would treat hours spent in training as hours worked, so any additional hours required would be paid as overtime rates, in accordance with the Collective Agreement.
HRHSSA is also determined to take away from nurses who have a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing an allowance of $50 per month – even though the GNWT pays their nurses the same allowance but of $100 per month.
Not only that, but the UNW has previously grieved this step taken unilaterally by HRHSSA and the arbitrator has ruled in the Union’s (and the nurses’) favour.
Finally, although HRHSSA has now provided a five-year offer in which it would match the general economic increases negotiated for GNWT employees for 2023, 2024 and 2025, it still refuses to match any bonuses, allowances, market adjustments etc. which may be negotiated at the GNWT table.
Outside of HRHSSA, every other health care worker in the NWT – numbering approximately 2,100 – is represented by the GNWT bargaining unit. Refusing to match gains at the GNWT over a five-year agreement would mean HRHSSA workers would continually remain three years behind in compensation, and HRHSSA would not be able to compete with other communities in the NWT for health care staff. The kindest thing you can say about your Employer’s position is that it is short-sighted.
After your Employer refused to continue bargaining last Friday (October 6) your Bargaining Team unanimously decided to ask you for another strike mandate.
A meeting to update you on bargaining has been scheduled for Thursday, October 12, 2023. Meetings will also be scheduled on Friday.
Please stay strong, stay focused, and kind to each other. Every single worker in our hospital has an important role in keeping it operating safely for our patients. Everyone is important, and everyone counts. In solidarity, there is strength.
More updates will follow.
YOUR BARGAINING TEAM
Gayla Thunstrom, UNW President
Anne Marie Thistle, UNW Director, Member Services
Djimy Theodore, PSAC Research Officer
Gail Lem, PSAC Negotiator