Nurses at Arrowsmith Lodge and Cokely Manor have voted 94 per cent in favour of strike action during ongoing contract negotiations.
According to a B.C. Nurses’ Union news release, the union has been negotiating with Arrowsmith Lodge for 18 months, “during which time the employer has insisted on deleting contract language and forcing concessions in order to meet a funding shortfall that’s largely due to Island Health’s underfunding of non-profit care facilities.”
Rachel Kimler, chair of BCNU’s Pacific Rim region, said they have proposed “a two-year roll-over of the existing contract with no increases in the first two years and only modest wage increases in years three and four.”
She said they have also shown how the Arrowsmith Health Care Society (operator of the two neighbouring facilities) can reduce operating costs with a new employee benefits provider they found that Kimler called win-win for employer and employees. Kimler said it would save the employer 29 per cent of their premium costs for similar coverage and even allow management to sign onto the plan, but the employer “is not even looking at it, they’re stuck on getting concessions from the nurses.”
“With a province-wide shortage of qualified nurses, Arrowsmith would be far wiser to drop demands for concessions and explore potential savings from switching benefit providers.”
Bargaining is scheduled to continue early in the New Year. The Arrowsmith Health Care Society could not be reached for comment by deadline.