For immediate release: Friday, November 13, 2020
United Nurses of Alberta has provided Alberta Health Services with the conditions necessary for its Bargaining Committee to agree to the suspension of negotiations sought by Finance Minister Travis Toews in a letter to the union yesterday.
In a letter to AHS Lead Negotiator Raelene Fitz this morning, UNA Labour Relations Director David Harrigan said Minister Toews’ proposal that the parties suspend bargaining and extend the letter of understanding stating there would be no reduction FTE hours worked by nurses until March 31, 2021, would be acceptable provided that:
- No employee suffers loss of pay or sick leave accumulation as a result of COVID-19-related absences, retroactive to July 6, 2020
- Employers agree to discontinue their attendance awareness programs for the duration of the pandemic
- Employers agree to distribute information regarding the Employee Family Assistance Plans and other mental health supports that they provide
- Employers agree to compensate employees for absences arising from COVID-related family obligations, retroactive to July 6, 2020
- Employers immediately suspend “vacancy management” and “OBP” programs (these are programs that exist to prevent the positing of vacancies) in order assist with the staffing crisis
- Employers immediately suspend introduction of the “Connect Care” (a new electronic charting system) so that health care professionals can focus on providing Albertans with the health care they deserve, rather than on introduction of new charting procedures
UNA rejected a call by the minister for introduction of a new joint employer-employee committee to deal with challenges facing nurses who are self-isolating, PPE, and the “impact of low attendance resulting from self-isolating employees,” on the grounds that if the employer doesn’t have time to bargain the contract, as it claims, it can hardly have time to bargain the issues before the new committee.
In his letter, Harrigan noted that UNA had previously offered to extend the pause on bargaining if AHS would agree to extend the letter of understanding on FTE and that this was rejected by the employer.
UNA is awaiting AHS’s reply, Harrigan said.