Provincewide negotiations between Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) began recently with an exchange of opening proposals.
The UNA also proposed wage increases of four per cent. The collective agreement between AHS and UNA expires on March 31.
“The offer on the table raises a number of issues for discussion between the bargaining teams. These are early days of negotiations and we will not be negotiating in the media,” says Shannon Larkins, a spokesperson for AHS.
“They are being intentionally provocative in their proposals. The AHS board set principles that suggested working together and then brought forward proposals to cut salaries, benefits, safe care provisions, scheduling protections and just about every aspect of our contract,” countered UNA president Heather Smith. “It’s an extreme proposal that we think is unreasonable. Trying to push nurses back won’t move health care forward.”
Smith said many of the rollbacks would erode standards of good nursing care, safety in the workplace and the job security of nurses.
“Our health care system is still struggling with a nursing shortage and too few beds,” Smith said. “We want these negotiations to make progress. We want Alberta Health Services to deal with the core problems that are leaving patients waiting far too long in emergency rooms, or packed into ‘overcapacity beds’ or waiting for surgery.”
“More nurses, more beds, more care is what Albertans need,” she said.