Multiple Province-wide Grievances Underway on Behalf of Members

December 13, 2022
Rescheduling and acknowledgement of paid holidays, mandatory vaccination policies and application of sick leave provisions at issue

BCNU has submitted several grievances on behalf of members affected by recent health employer policies. Each of the grievances is an industry-wide application dispute (IWAD), which is filed when a difference arises between the union and the employer concerning the interpretation, application, operation, or alleged violation of the Nurses’ Bargaining Association (NBA) collective agreement.

Arbitration decisions following an IWAD – described in Article 9.07 of the 2019-2022 NBA provincial collective agreement – apply to all employers represented by the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC).

Paid Holidays 

The union is seeking a decision that would make HEABC and member employers immediately comply with their NBA contract obligation to reschedule paid holidays for nurses where the nurse works an overtime shift on their rotation or calendar paid holiday.

BCNU has also filed IWADs regarding the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation observed on Sept. 30, 2021 and Sept. 30, 2022, and the Queen’s Day of Mourning that was observed on Sept. 19, 2022. The union contends that on all of these dates, HEABC and member employers breached the NBA contract by failing to provide paid holiday entitlements, including appropriate wage remuneration and days off. As a remedy, the union is demanding that employers provide full paid holiday entitlements to affected members.

Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policies

BCNU’s IWAD on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies argues that HEABC and its member employers refused to allow nurses who have failed to comply with the policies the ability to exercise various rights under the NBA contract. These terminated nurses have lost wages, benefits, service, and seniority as a result of HEABC and health employers’ actions. Included among those affected are nurses who have also suffered injury to dignity under the BC Human Rights Code. 

As a remedy, the union is seeking a declaration that provincial health employers: 

  • Implemented policies that are unreasonable and in breach of the NBA collective agreement.
  • Breached the collective agreement by failing to take steps to persuade the provincial health officer to revise and/or tailor its vaccine mandate.
  • Breached the collective agreement by denying affected nurses access to various earned benefits under the agreement.
  • Breached the collective agreement by terminating the affected nurses.
  • Breached the BC Human Rights Code.

The union is seeking the immediate reinstatement of the nurses impacted by the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies and is pursuing a make-whole order for loss of wages, benefits, service, and seniority, in addition to special damages. It is also seeking damages under the BC Human Rights Code for those members who suffered injury to dignity.

Sick Leave

The union’s IWAD on sick leave alleges that HEABC and member employers have failed to fully implement recent amendments to sick leave provisions in the Employment Standards Act (ESA), which now provides unionized employees – including regular, temporary, and casual – with up to five days of annual sick leave. Recent amendments to the ESA (through Bill 19) have also removed the “meets or exceeds” minimum for collective agreement language and make clear the provincial government’s intention that all employees should have equal access to the paid personal illness or injury leave.

BCNU contends that members, whether regular full-time, part-time, or casual, should have access to five sick days per calendar year provided they meet the ESA prerequisites, which include being an employee for 90 days. The union is seeking a remedy that will see health employers provide all members with their entitlements as set out by the new legislation, including retroactive payments and/or reinstatement of all banks impacted.

If you have been denied access to sick leave, please speak to a BCNU steward.

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