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Bad-faith bargaining complaint filed amid care-centre strike
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Friday, January 4, 2013 11:46AM MST
Last Updated Friday, January 4, 2013 7:13PM MST
The United Nurses of Alberta announced Friday that officials had filed a formal complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board, claiming the operator of a south side care centre is bargaining in bad faith with its nurses.
UNA officials said officials had asked the Labour Relations Board to hold an emergency hearing by the weekend, and order the employer, Park Place Seniors Living, to go back to the bargaining table.
The complaint states that the employer had bargained in bad faith by saying it would provide the union with an amended proposal, and then failing to do so, scheduled bargaining meetings had been cancelled because the union had served strike notice, or for other reasons, and stating officials were ready to meet with the union at any time, and then refusing to meet.
“We had dates established for January 10 and 11 for mediation, which they have now backed away from,” UNA President Heather Smith said.
Meanwhile, Park Place said it’s willing to resume talks – but they won’t be giving the same agreement to Devonshire nurses as with other facilities run by the company.
“If the union is not changing its position, which it hasn’t done for that 14 months of negotiations, then there’s very little to negotiate with,” Park Place VP of Operations Ian West said.
At issue in the current job action is wages, the union said RNs at the Devonshire Care Centre are paid about $9 less per hour, than other nurses working in both the public and the private sector in the province – including facilities run by the same company.
The company said an increase nurses are asking for would translate to cuts for patient care.
Park Place told CTV News the company has made two fair offers already.
“Which shows increases to the salary grid and to benefits, sick time and all of the other aspects of doing business,” West said.
However, the union rejected the most recent offer.
The fifteen registered nurses working at the Devonshire Care Centre on Rabbit Hill Road walked off the job New Year’s Eve, after bargaining for more than a year and a half, in an effort to get a first collective agreement from the company that owns the care centre.
Care for the residents of the care centre has reportedly been suffering – in the complaint the UNA states:
There is some urgency in concluding this dispute. The dispute is affecting elderly, frail residents of the centre, and the union has heard reports that resident care is suffering.
The union outlined in a press release a number of incidents officials have heard about taking place inside the facility since the strike began – including residents going without scheduled medical treatments, having prescribed medication late, the mishandling of narcotic drugs and unqualified staff administering medication.
UNA said it also learned Friday that night shifts are running without registered nurses – which officials said violates the Nursing Homes Act, and a replacement worker had been fired for swearing in front of residents.
AHS officials said they are monitoring the situation at Devonshire Care Centre, and gave a statement to CTV News on the situation:
“The care and safety of residents is the primary concern of Alberta Health Services. We are confident care has not been compromised.”
With files from Amanda Anderson
More than a dozen registered nurses took to the picket line outside the Devonshire Care Centre on Rabbit Hill Road at about 3 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31.