Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews has revised and softened his labour proposal to the United Nurses of Alberta. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews has revised and softened his labour proposal to the United Nurses of Alberta. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Provincial government softens its labour proposal for Alberta nurses

UNA said progresss has been made, but some issues remain

The province has revised — and softened — the labour proposal it’s offering Alberta nurses, eliminating some rollbacks.

On Wednesday, Minister of Treasury Board and Finance Travis Toews issued a statement about the ongoing negotiations between Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA).

Toews said, “I’m pleased that AHS has issued a revised labour proposal to UNA in hopes of reaching a new collective agreement with the province’s nurses.

What’s now being offered is a long-term contract for nurses, “with a wage freeze for the first three years and a modest wage increase in the fourth and fifth years of the mandate.”

Toews said the new proposal acknowledges the hard work and dedication of Alberta’s nurses, while respecting the tough fiscal situation the province is in.

“There are still a number of items that need to be negotiated, including the twice yearly lump sum payments that do not exist in any other nursing contract in Canada. However, I’m hopeful the two sides will continue to work together to reach a fair and reasonable deal when formal mediation begins on September 21.”

The United Nurses of Alberta told members that these revisions represent some progress, but the union is still concerned about “several serious rollbacks,” including a proposal that would amount to an immediate two per cent pay cut for UNA members.

According to the union, the new employer’s bargaining position drops several “offensive” rollbacks AHS has been demanding, including a 3-per-cent across-the-board cut to the salary appendix immediately upon ratification of a new agreement followed by three years with no pay increases, reductions of shift differentials and other pay premiums, elimination of “superstat” holidays, and elimination of designated days of rest for part-time employees.

However, the AHS proposal maintains the employer’s demand for elimination of lump-sum payments, which would cost UNA members 2 per cent a year in pay, and a letter of understanding that would take away important scheduling protections for nurses.

UNA stated it will meet with the mediator on Friday and is hoping to resolve the outstanding issues.

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