Liberal Government and BCNU Collude to Unravel Collective Bargaining Structure

Thursday, April 18, 2013

On the day before the Liberal government dissolved, BC Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid announced the enactment of Bill 18, redefining health care bargaining units and moving licensed practical nurses into the RN-dominated Nurses’ Bargaining Association. As a result, HEU LPN members in the facilities and community health subsectors will be transferred into the NBA though they will still be covered by the terms and conditions of the facilities’ collective agreement for the next year.

Bill 18, the Health Authorities Amendment Act, was introduced and passed by the BC Liberal majority in the legislature without meaningful consultation. MacDiarmid had committed herself to consultation before enacting the legislation, but this consultation was only announced after the legislation passed and the majority of the unions that attended stated that they had to consult with their members first and properly review the proposed change.  “The day before we were to meet with our members, the government went ahead and enacted it anyway. That is not proper consultation, but a sham of a process,” said CUPE Local 15 President, Paul Faoro.

The requirement for meaningful consultation was established by the Supreme Court of Canada when it struck down a 2002 BC Liberal law that tore up collective agreements in the health and social services sectors. The bargaining structure that was in place before this announcement came about in the late 1990s after almost a year of extensive consultation with all affected parties – not just one union that had a promise it wanted to deliver. The BC Liberals highlighted their collaboration with BCNU in their election platform, also released Monday.

“Today’s announcement is a cynical political move, and Margaret MacDiarmid demonstrates, once again, why the BC Liberals’ time is up. The time for governing by rhetoric and photo op is over,” Faoro said.

CUPE Local 15 represents 30 licensed practical nurses employed by Vancouver Coastal Health.