Nurses ratify collective agreement

Staff ~ The Packet
Published on June 11, 2009

Nurses in this province voted overwhelmingly in favour of a collective agreement reaced in May. 98 per cent of members voted yes to the contract, which includes a 20 per cent wage increase over four years.

"After a very challenging negotiations process, we are very pleased to see this overwhelming support from Registered Nurses," says Debbie Forward, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses' Union (NLNU) . "We worked hard to achieve an agreement that makes our nurses competitive with the rest of country, includes measures to improve nursing recruitment and retention, maintains our right to collective bargaining, and places our provincial health care system in a better position for the future."

The collective agreement includes:
· An 20% wage increase over four years, with 8% retroactive to July 1, 2008; 4% effective July 1, 2009; 4% effective July 1, 2010; and 4% effective July 1, 2011;
· The addition of one step at the top of the pay scale to be 4.5% existing step 7;

· The deletion of step one and step two from the bottom of the pay scale;

· Increase shift differentials, from 0.72 cents per hour to $2.30 per hour, and increase weekend differentials from $1.25 per hour to $2.55 per hour;

· Increase standby duty rates from $6.90 to $20.40 per 8-hour shift or part thereof and increase standby duty rates from $10.35 to $30.60 per 12-hour shift or part thereof;

· A 150-hour cap on banked comp time, meaning nurses can only bank 150 hours of overtime for time off. After 150 hours, nurses would be required to take overtime as pay;

· A flexible hours of work clause applying to community nurses hired after the date of signing

· Top up of the Educational Leave Fund (ELF) with an $182,000, bringing it to $300,000;

· Provide one-for-one experience credits, meaning one step on the pay scale for every one year of experience for nurses entering the provincial healthcare system;

· An Enhanced Senior Level Collaboration between NLNU, Government and Health Authorities in the form of a tri-partite committee to address provincial nursing practice and patient care issues such as lack of relief, non-nursing duties, lift teams and violence prevention, etc.;

· Establish committees within each employer to discuss possible conversion of permanent float positions to unit specific permanent positions;

· The Extended Earnings Loss, or EEL, provision that has been included in the other unions' agreements.

· A Letter of Understanding re: Market Adjustment that maintains the NLNU's right to collectively bargain on behalf of its membership.

This collective agreement will be in place until June 30, 2012 and applies to approximately 5,000 Registered Nurses in Newfoundland and Labrador.