Grand River nurses say ’employer not ready to bargain’

nurses3Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) working for the Grand River Community Health Centre have been without a contract since March 31.

They are hoping to avoid a strike and have set a date for conciliation in their efforts to reach a new collective agreement. The NPs and RNs, members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), collectively provide primary care and health-care services to approximately 2,400 patients in the community.

They say the employer came to negotiations “not prepared to bargain. “It was immediately clear to ONA that this employer had cuts on the agenda, and no intention of negotiating,” said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. “The employer came to the table saying there was no money available for any kind of wage increase, yet management is highly compensated and their ranks are set to grow.”

Haslam-Stroud points out that “In a community where recruiting full-time family physicians has proved to be extremely challenging, our Nurse Practitioners have filled a desperate need for quality patient care. Yet while the employer is crying poor, our dedicated front-line workers have seen management grow while the ranks of those providing front-line care has been cut. It’s absolutely imperative that front-line health-care service providers be retained for the benefit of those who matter most – our patients.”

Nurse Practitioners possess extended special training and care for patients including those with chronic illness. They provide primary child and newborn care. CHC Registered Nurses provide smoking cessation counselling, diagnostic testing, immunizations, run the memory clinic and support primary care providers.

“Even as they cited a $120,000 funding shortfall, this employer hired an additional management position, resulting in three managers and a client service coordinator for approximately 40 workers,” Haslam-Stroud says. “Now this employer plans to lay off one of the three NPs, redirecting those funds to cover building costs.”

The NPs and RNs have set a date for conciliation talks in future, and are scheduled to hold a strike vote onJune 15. ONA urges the employer to attend conciliation prepared to negotiate a new contract for these vital NPs and RNs. “This community needs and deserves the quality care our nurses provide,” said Haslam-Stroud.

ONA is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses, nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses and allied health professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, family health teams, community health centres, the community, clinics and industry. – CNW

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