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Go to http://www.heu.org/2004/nr-03-02-04-massiveconcessions.pdf for printer friendly version.

Unions representing more than 40,000 hospital and long-term care workers are asking B.C.’s health employers to take their current list of concession demands off the table and return with a more productive bargaining position Thursday.

The union bargaining association is also calling on the Health Employers Association of B.C.- the bargaining agent for health employers - to put current privatization plans and worker layoffs on hold while talks continue. B.C.’s health authorities have issued more than 2,500 pink slips to health care workers since bargaining began January 9.

On February 19, HEABC tabled more than 100 pages of concession demands that include wage rollbacks of up to 16 per cent, reduced sick leave, restricted access to long-term disability benefits, vacation roll backs, fewer benefits for part-time workers and an elimination of pay equity.

“These are demands that are so far out of the ballpark - and so mean-spirited to the women and men who work in health care - that we’ve asked they be taken off the table,” says Hospital Employees’ Union secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt.

“Health employers have already fired thousands of health care workers using government legislation that shredded the last contract they signed with our members.

“But instead of working to restore trust at the bargaining table, HEABC is looking for more contract rollbacks, more privatization of health services and more chaos in hospitals and long-term care facilities,” adds Allnutt.

“We’re asking them to take a step back, be reasonable and come back with a proposal that shows some respect for the women and men who deliver health care services.”

There are about 43,000 health care workers affected by the current round of bargaining. The Hospital Employees’ Union represents about 40,000 of these workers while 10 other unions in the bargaining association including the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers represent the remaining 3,000 workers.