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Care centre RNs hit the picket line
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Monday, December 31, 2012 12:06PM MST
Last Updated Monday, December 31, 2012 6:46PM MST
Days after serving strike notice, more than a dozen registered nurses walked off the job at a south side care centre Monday afternoon.
On Thursday, Dec. 27 the union gave strike notice to the employer, Park Place Seniors Living, of their intention to take action at the Devonshire Care Centre on Rabbit Hill Road the following week.
The decision to go on strike came after a year and a half of bargaining with the company – the union said both sides are at odds mainly over wages, and the difference between what staff is paid at Devonshire, versus other care facilities.
“We just want to have the standard rate for nurses, like others are getting,” Nurse Katherine Gomez said. “From there it would be a good start.”
“When you consider the salary, and the premiums and the benefits, it’s probably about $9 an hour,” David Harrigan, Director of Labour Relations with United Nurses of Alberta said in an interview with CTV Morning Live. “It’s even different from what the same employer agreed to pay the nurses at Hardisty [Care Centre].”
However, the company said the agreement with Hardisty came because they’ve already negotiated a number of contracts with that care centre.
“To pay nine dollars an hour simply because they’ve got a union that’s threatened to go on strike, and threatened to disrupt our business is no reason to reward nurses with a nine dollar increase,” Ian West with Park Place Seniors Living said in a phone interview with CTV News.
“It’s a very archaic approach for an employer to suggest that a group of nurses or any workers have to pay their dues in terms of waiting to be fairly treated and respected,” UNA President Heather Smith said.
The fifteen registered nurses who work at the centre voted overwhelmingly in favour of going on strike in a vote supervised by the Alberta Labour Relations Board on Dec. 14.
However, the nurses promised to wait until after Christmas, so their job action would not affect residents during the holiday.
Now, Harrigan isn’t sure what Park Place has planned to cover staffing during the strike.
“I’m not sure what plans the employer has in place, they say that they have some, there’s no doubt that care is going to be affected,” Harrigan said. “Even if the employer does bring in registered nurses, they’re not going to be people that know the residents that know their condition.”
West told CTV News they’ll work with a skeleton staff for now, and Alberta Health Services officials will be on site to ensure residents are looked after.
The company has also laid out plans if the strike carries on.
“If there’s no long term solution then we’ll be recruiting new nurses under the current terms and solutions that do want to work at Devonshire,” West said.
A meeting between both sides has been scheduled for Jan.10, the union still wants to hold the meeting, but the company said there would be little point, because the offer they would put forward would have improved wages but they wouldn’t be close to the numbers requested.
With files from Breanna Karstens-Smith