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REGINA: The 12,000 CUPE members in the Health Care Council Bargaining Unit want to achieve significant improvements in this bargaining round to create a family-friendly work environment in the health sector.

The CUPE health care members who are mostly women - work in acute care, long term care and community/home care in health districts around the province. They are employed in a variety of positions including special care and dietary aides, porters, licensed practical nurses, lab technicians, housekeeping, laundry and maintenance.

According to Health Care Council President Steve Foley, CUPE members in the health sector are finding it more and more difficult balancing the demands of their work lives with their home lives. Although studies show women continue to be the primary caregivers in their families, there is little accommodation of their dual roles in health care.

The crushing workloads and minimum staffing levels have created enormous pressures for health care workers. Our members are working sick, theyre working injured and theyre working over-time because of short-staffing and underfunding, he says. At the end of their shifts, our members are going home to their families feeling stressed-out and wrung-out.

Foley says it is a sad irony that the leading cause of poor health for health care workers is the fact they work in the health care system. For seven of the last eight years health care has recorded the highest rate of workplace injuries of any industry in the province.

In addition, many CUPE health care members work shift work, week-ends and irregular work hours a reality that makes it more difficult to balance work and family demands.

The CUPE Health Care President says if the provincial government and the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations want to address the staff recruitment and retention problem, they must start caring about the health and well-being of workers in the health system.

In this Work and Family Bargaining Round, the CUPE Health Care Council is proposing improvements in four key areas:

  • Shorter annual hours of work, equivalent of 5/4-work week

  • Improved family/ dependent care leaves

  • Better pensions and other benefits

  • Reduced workloads

Bargaining between the CUPE Health Care Council and the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations begins next month. Bargaining dates are scheduled until the end of June. The CUPE health care workers agreement expires March 31.

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For more information call Steve Foley at 525-5874, extension 227.