Health staff working in B.C. jails reach tentative four-year deal

'We all stuck it out. At the end, we had some good breakthroughs.'


Victoria (25 August 2006) - Health care workers in jails across British Columbia reached a tentative agreement with their employer this week, ending a seven-day work-to-rule campaign.

The British Columbia Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) extended its full support to the nurses, social workers, pharmaceutical technicians and clerical workers who have walked off the job at provincial jails in a dispute over wages, benefits and other issues.

A B.C. Labour Relations Board order on Aug. 14 prevented correctional staff members represented by the BCGEU from joining picket lines in sympathy with the striking nurses.

The employees had been trying to negotiate a new agreement since May. Nine provincial jails are affected by the job action along with the Vancouver Jail.

"We all stuck it out," said Susan Veuskens, a nurse at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre. "At the end, we had some good breakthroughs."

The deal will affect 220 members of the B.C. Nurses Union.

The new contract will include a wage increase of 14.2% per cent over four years, giving the workers wage parity with provincial hospital employees. A retention and recruitment bonus of 65 cents an hour for nurses and a new sick leave provision are also part of the agreement. NUPGE

More information:BCGEU supports striking nurses despite labour board order