Essential Services – the basics
Under BC law, no healthcare union can take job action without establishing and maintaining "essential services".
Essential services are those services, and the staffing levels to support them, which the Labour Relations Board of BC considers "necessary or essential to prevent the immediate and serious danger to the health, safety or welfare of the residents of British Columbia."
Essential services are established first through a lengthy process of negotiation between UPN representatives on one side, and employers on the other. If the sides can't agree, the LRB can mediate or make binding orders. The LRB is responsible for ensuring the level of service balances public safety with union and employer rights.
The LRB is an independent, administrative tribunal with the mandate to mediate and adjudicate employment and labour relations matters related to unionized workplaces.
Nurses and other healthcare workers must maintain agreed or imposed essential service levels in the event of any form of strike action – be it a work-to-rule, overtime ban, study sessions or picket lines.
Essential Services Preparation for Provincial Collective Agreement worksites – what to expect
As we prepare for Provincial Collective Agreement bargaining in 2012 much work has to be done.
Worksite Essential Services Representatives (WESR) in UPN worksites have been trained to collect information to ensure that UPN meets its legal obligations under the Labour Code and supports our bargaining process. WESRs have worked with UPN members to document staffing levels on their units or worksites/programs and have developed UPN Essential Services plan drafts. The plans will be used by UPN Labour Relations Staff and Essential Services Representatives to negotiate ES plans with employers. The negotiations are currently under way in all health authorities.
The plans will form the mathematical architecture for job action. Following negotiations with the Employer, the plans will clarify how many UPN staff will be deemed essential when/if job action commences. Note that no form of job action can begin until a strike vote has been carried out.
For further information on Essential Services, contact UPN HQ. Watch this space for updates as they become available.