With the province’s health ministers saying nurses here are already getting the best deal in Canada, B.C. nurses remain undaunted in their plan to resign en masse.
Local union representative Birthe Cisecki says she’s collected 299 letters of resignation from nurses in the region to date and she expects to gather more on her tour of the region throughout the week.
“The government has pushed us against the wall and we’re pushing back,” she says, adding the government and health employers have moved so little from their original stance since the ban on job action that the union believes employers are bargaining in bad faith.
“We want a negotiated settlement,” says Ms. Cisecki. “We need one to attract nurses to this province.”
The resignations will be tendered to health employers en masse at an undisclosed date, giving the health employers 28 days to present an offer that will make nurses stay.
“After 28 days notice they’re going to have no nurses,” says Ms. Cisecki.
When asked if nurses will wait until the government legislates them a contract, she says only, “that’s part of it.”
Nurses are being asked to leave the province, families and friends to help the union take a stand for a little less than $3 an hour (Nurses want $35 an hour, while employers want to pay only $32.42).
Nurses argue by the time they hit the top wage level, nurses in other provinces will already be negotiating their next raise.
Ms. Cisecki says she knows giving up a job and benefits is a sacrifice but every resignation counts.
The province’s hospitals, already 1,000 nurses short, would stop operating.
“We can not afford to lose one more nurse,” she says, adding some of the damage in terms of recruitment has already been done.
“Nurses from other provinces are already saying look at this situation, look at the treatment of nurses, the arrogance and contempt with which Mr. Moser talks. Why would they want to come here?”
The province has 26,000 unionized nurses, more than 500 of which work in the Northern Interior Health Region.
PGRH administration claims recruitment efforts have broken even in the period December to May, as about 25 new nurses have been hired and the same number has been lost to resignations.