Posts Tagged "deal"


Cost of three-year deal with bus and Seabus workers won’t affect TransLink expansion plans

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Transit workers from Unifor Locals 111 and 2200 vote whether to ratify a contract agreement with Coast Mountain Bus Company.

Jason Payne / PNG

The cost of the new three-year deal with TransLink’s bus company employees, which will add at least $3 an hour to wages for 5,000 workers, won’t derail transit expansion, according to the agency.

“We can’t cost out the deal,” until after negotiations are completed with 900 workers from another union for SkyTrain workers, spokeswoman Jill Drews said Friday.

But she said, “Expansion plans will not be affected. The deal that was negotiated is within our ability to pay. There’s no fear of that (affecting expansion) anymore.”

Workers at TransLink’s Coast Mountain Bus Company voted more than 83 per cent in favour of the deal on Thursday, reached in negotiations between the company and Unifor just before the union planned to begin a full-scale strike.

Unifor had been seeking a 15.2 per cent increase over four years for bus drivers and 16.7 per cent compounded over four years for maintenance workers. Coast Mountain had been offering 12.2 per cent for skilled trades over four years and 9.6 per cent for transit operators over the same period. The company had said Unifor’s would have cost more than $600 million over the 10 years and that kind of deal would jeopardize transit system expansion plans.

“It’s fair to say it’s below that” $600 million,” Drews said., adding the deal is “somewhere in the middle” between the initial demands.


Drews said the cost for the bus company will be made public after negotiations are completed with Canadian Union of Public Employees in a separate set of contract talks for 900 employees, including station attendants and maintenance workers of TransLink’s B.C. Rapid Transit Company.

The strike by the Coast Mountain workers began Nov. 1 with a uniform ban by transit operators and an overtime ban by maintenance workers, which reduced SeaBus sailings.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in a news release that the deal with Unifor Locals 111 and 2200  included “historic gains” for wages, benefits and working conditions.

Unifor said the deal reduced the “wage gap with Toronto’s transit operators,” brought the wages for Coast Mountain’s skilled trades workers more in line with the about $3 more an hour paid to SkyTrain’s skilled trades workers, set out “guaranteed minimum rest and recovery allowances of 45 minutes” and better washroom breaks and facilities.

The salary range for drivers before the settlement was $24.46 to $32.61 an hour after 24 months. After four years, with a two per cent raise retroactive to April 1, one per cent on ratification, and three per cent a year thereafter, the range would rise to $27.49 to $35.64 an hour.

Coast Mountain’s skilled-trades workers received a two per cent retroactive pay to April 1 and an additional $1.95 an hour increase, followed by two per cent raises in future years of the contract.


 Microsoft deal means more access for all Canadian public servants with disabilities, minister says

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The federal government has renewed a contract with Microsoft Canada that includes more digital communication tools for public servants with disabilities.

Minister of Accessibility Carla Qualtrough made the announcement at Microsoft’s offices in Vancouver, saying the modern tools will allow for more information sharing, productivity and collaboration.

Qualtrough, who is legally blind, says the seven-year agreement is part of the government’s procurement of software and services for all public servants and that about five per cent of the workforce of 410,000 people has a disability.

The inclusive design of the $940-million deal includes features such as artificial intelligence technology that allows an image on a screen to be described to someone who can’t see and provide transcription for dozens of languages.

Qualtrough says all public servants will now have access to Office 365 and the agreement will enable software to run in data centres or in the cloud.

She says all Canadians will benefit as a result of a strong platform for the delivery of programs and services.

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B.C. nurses against tentative deal want more staff, not more money

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There are hundreds of nursing vacancies posted on the HealthMatch B.C. website, but not even the union knows how many more jobs need to be filled.

There are hundreds of nursing vacancies posted on the HealthMatch B.C. website, but not even the union knows how many more jobs need to be filled.

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images files

A vocal group of frustrated nurses is threatening to reject a three-year tentative contract with the provincial government because it doesn’t come with written guarantees that more nurses will be hired for short-staffed hospital units.

The voting deadline for the tentative deal is Jan. 21 and, as Postmedia stories have been documenting contract details this week, nurses have been voicing their concerns in emails and on social media that the deal doesn’t go far enough to hold employers to account.

This, even though the Health Employers Association of B.C., which negotiates on behalf of the government, agreed to a provision in the $3.99-billion contract in which nurses working on short-staffed units will be given an hourly bonus ranging from $3 to $5 an hour. The “working short” premiums could cost taxpayer-funded health facilities as much as $100 million a year, according to the union bargaining team which insists that it is putative and is, therefore, a huge incentive for hospitals to fill vacancies.

The cost of the premiums is considered an “unfunded liability” to health employers so amounts owing to nurses would come out of hospital and other budgets already allocated by the provincial government. It remains to be seen whether the ministry of health would hand over more money to health authorities to cover the premiums.

Naysayers are skeptical that the premiums will achieve their purpose; some say it will still be cheaper to pay the premiums than to hire new nurses. Nearly $200 million was paid in overtime to nurses last year.

Health Employers spokesman Roy Thorpe-Dorward said in an interview that the agreement “requires employers to take all reasonable efforts to fill shifts, including going to full overtime rates.

“The working short premium is intended to compensate nurses who are required to work short if a shift can’t be filled. The goal of employers is to minimize the number of times this premium would be paid.”


There are hundreds of nursing vacancies posted on the HealthMatch B.C. website but not even the union knows how many more jobs need to be filled, so the contract provides for a workload assessment process over the next year meant to show what “safe staffing” levels are for each hospital unit. The union can also press for more hirings in other ways, as it did at St. Paul’s Hospital last year.

The “working short premium” as it is called, will kick in on April 1, 2020 and B.C. Nurses Union CEO Umar Sheikh has said that many of the 6,000 casual nurses should be converted to regular, permanent positions to help plug the “four million hours” when hospitals are short staffed.

B.C. Nurses Union CEO Umar Sheikh.

B.C. Nurses Union CEO Umar Sheikh.


Sheikh acknowledged it may be difficult to find and hire enough registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses and licensed practical nurses. Recent reports by the Canadian Nurses Association and the Canadian Institute of Health Information show that nationally, there is an alarming slowdown in the growth of employed nurses.

The annual growth rate fell to 0.7 per cent from 2016 to 2017, the slowest in a decade. In 2017 (the last year for which data is available), a total of 4,271 nurses were registered for the first time in B.C., but in the same year 3,135 retired, so there was a net gain of only 1,136 nurses. By comparison, Ontario had net gains of 1,941 nurses and Alberta had 1,183.

Nurses say they can’t speak on the record during the ratification process but they have been reaching out in droves — off the record — to articulate their worries.

B.C. Nurses Union president Christine Sorensen.

B.C. Nurses Union president Christine Sorensen.

Wayne Leidenfrost /


In a comment posted under a news story, Teresa Johnson-Fortune said:

“We have been working short staffed for years and the government has not lived up to their previous contract negotiations. The current health care system is run based on nurses doing crazy amounts of overtime. We are tired, but most of us do overtime because we feel bad for our co-workers and don’t want to leave them working short.”

Sheikh told his union members the working short premiums are high enough that hospitals will be compelled to hire extra staff rather than pay it. For example, the $5 per hour premium represents an 11.38-per-cent wage increase on top of the 7.75-per-cent increase nurses will get over three years. (Although the contract calls for a two-per-cent increase each year, an extra 1.75 is due to nurses this year as a carryover from the last contract.)

“The working short premium represents a commitment by the employers — (one) we haven’t seen before.”

Nurses union president Christine Sorensen told members in the same teleconference that the understaffing in hospitals is “simply unsustainable.” The contract addresses priorities nurses identified before bargaining, she said, including compensation for all time worked, wage increases, benefits protection, workloads and safe staffing levels, and a premium “for those times when you did not have staff (on leaves) replaced.”


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Tentative deal reached for 44,000 nurses across British Columbia

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File: A woman wearing hospital scrubs walks towards the ER at Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, BC, November, 27, 2013.


VICTORIA — The Health Employers Association and The B.C. Nurses Union bargaining group have announced a tentative agreement for the province’s 44,000 nurses.

The agreement falls under the B.C. government’s sustainable services negotiating mandate, which in 2019 includes a general wage increase of two per cent in each year of a three-year deal.

The mandate also allows for the ability to negotiate conditional funding, but no details of the agreement will be released until after a ratification vote.

The tentative deal covers registered nurses, psychiatric and licensed practical nurses working in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home-support and mental-health facilities.

A union spokeswoman says ratification votes will be held around the province until Jan. 21 and the results are expected to be announced by Jan. 22.

The government says in a news release that nearly 155,000 public-sector employees are covered by tentative or ratified agreements under the sustainable services mandate.

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