On March 28, the B.C. Public Service Agency advised us that they were removing Forensic Psychiatric Services (FPSC), Oak Bay Lodge and the Lodge at Broadmead from the Public Service effective June 1, 2013. FPSC and Oak Bay were to be moved to the Health Sector and the Lodge at Broadmead would become an independent employer. This letter can be found by clicking the link Notice Letter.
This brings about some very significant changes, especially for those members working at FPSC and Oak Bay Lodge, as the move to the Health Sector would entail a transition to a completely different collective agreement. With Broadmead, the employer intends to remain under the 15th Master until it expires on March 31, 2014 and then negotiate separately from then on.
Shortly after receiving this notice we entered into talks with the government and learned that they did not consider this a change in employers and therefore they did not believe that our members had a choice in remaining with their employer or taking their displacement rights as found in Article 13 of the 15th Master. We categorically disagree with the government’s position and, after some discussion, filed a General Application Grievance claiming that there was indeed a change in employer and that our members should have all of their Article 13 rights including the right to opt for severance pay.
Since then, John Hall has been appointed as sole arbitrator for this case and we have July 31 and August 1, 2013 set aside for the hearing. As this will take place after the June 1 transition, we have also received undertakings that, if we should win our case, all employees of the effected agencies will be offered their Article 13 rights at that time.
We have also been actively involved in working out a transfer agreement for FPSC and Oak Bay Lodge. We have had several meetings with representatives of the Government, Health Employers Association (HEABC), FPSC and Oak Bay management present. While we have not yet completed talks on the transfer agreement, most of it has been agreed to and there are only a couple of matters remaining to finalize. You can review the tentative agreement by clicking the link transfer agreement.
With the move from the 15th Master to the Provincial Collective Agreement (PCA) you will note that there are quite a few changes to your working conditions. Some are for the better while others are not so good (see comparison document). Through our transfer agreement talks, we have tried to lessen the negative impacts in some of these areas. For example, while you will be losing STIIP, your sick leave banks will be “seeded” with 10 sick days per year of service up to the maximum allowable.
During talks, we also spent quite a bit of time determining how the change from a 35 hour week to a 37.5 hour week would impact your schedules. While you will lose your surplus days because of this, we have come to the conclusion that there is no need to radically alter your rotations. Those on a 4:2 rotation can remain on the same rotation and need only work ten minutes more per shift. Members working a 5:2 shift will see no change. In the community, if you were working a 9-day fortnight, this can still be retained however, you will need to work an extra 33 minutes per shift. You can review the rotation calculations by clicking on one of the links: 4:2, 5:2, or 9-day fortnight.
One major question that we don’t have an answer for yet deals with classifications. The classification system in the Health Sector is significantly different to that in the Public Service and, in some instances; the classifications don’t align with each other. We have been constantly asking the employer for information on how they see our members being classified but they say they haven’t completed their determination yet. All we can do is wait and see at this point. Once they make their determination, we hope that it will be a fair one. If it isn’t, then we will have to sit down with those members who are negatively impacted and figure out what kind of a case can be made for disputing the classifications. As I say, until they advise us of what the classifications are, we can only hope that it will be reasonable and fair.
For those members at the Lodge at Broadmead, we hope to be over there soon to discuss any concerns you may have and to discuss strategies for bargaining at the end of the year. We believe you will see little noticeable change after June 1 and so we have focused more on the other two groups who are facing much more change. This doesn’t mean that we have forgotten you. You are important to us and we will do our best to support you through this change.
We recognize that this is a major change for many of you who have spent your entire nursing career in the Public Service. Should you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to contact us either by email or by calling the office.