Spring flowers are starting to bloom, and the brighter days bring a much-needed sense of hope and renewal. Our members have endured so much these past few years, and we want and need to see a brighter future for all nurses.
The province is slowly emerging from the pandemic and BCNU regions are again starting to host member engagement and outreach events. I recently had the chance to participate in such an event at Vancouver General Hospital. The steward team, regional council members and I were able to connect with hundreds of members on this bright sunny day to answer their questions and provide information on BCNU's steward elections.
BCNU places a high priority on steward recruitment and retention, and we invest significant resources in steward development. Steward elections are where an individual steward's leadership path begins. This is an important opportunity to encourage the participation of all union members and increase the diversity of BCNU's leaders. Speak with a member of your regional executive team if you are interested in becoming a steward. Or take our online Building Union Strength course to learn more.
I would like to acknowledge our stewards for their invaluable and all-too-often thankless work, especially during the pandemic. The amazing leadership they provide to members every day is inspiring, and we hope more members step forward to take up the challenge. It's not always an easy job, but it truly is rewarding. Stewards are the heart of BCNU.
I'm inspired by Catherine Tanski and other members of the Indigenous Leadership Circle, who took the initiative to partner with a number of nursing and post-secondary organizations to recognize BC's inaugural Indigenous Nurses Day on April 10, the birthday of Edith Monture, the first Indigenous nurse in Canada.
Promoting human rights and equity (HRE) has never been more important, and the first provincial HRE bargaining conference held this January was a step in the right direction.
The Nurses' Bargaining Association collective agreement expired on March 31. That means nurses across the province are positioned to take action and advance their interests ahead of provincial bargaining. Rest assured you are still covered by the existing agreement until a new, clear, concise and enforceable contract is negotiated and ratified by our members.
Other health-sector unions have begun negotiations with employers and the government. That means it's time for all nurses to learn more about what job action means if a union puts up picket lines, and how to report to strike headquarters to learn whether you're deemed essential or on the picket line. Our education department has been diligently creating an asynchronous online module on provincial job action that will assist members with the process.
Next month, members will be heading to Victoria for National Nursing Week. This will be an opportunity to let the government know we are serious about safe staffing and ending workplace violence, to name just two of our asks. Contact your regional council member to find out about National Nursing Week activities at your worksite.
Now is the time to come together, united with one voice and the goal of achieving a collective agreement that supports nurse recruitment and retention, safe staffing levels, increased wages and premiums and many of the other priorities members highlighted at this winter's regional bargaining conferences and town halls.
We've just launched a new provincial advertising campaign to highlight the enormity of the nurse staffing crisis and call the public's attention to the burdens our members have borne during the pandemic, toxic drug crisis and climate-related disasters. Tell your friends and family to visit www.helpbcnurses.ca and send a message to their MLA demanding action.
Together, in solidarity, we can achieve great things. Become informed and involved. This is your contract and your union.
Aman GrewalPresident, BC Nurses' Union
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