OPSEU -- Ontario Hospital central interest arbitration award comes out

The central interest arbitration award settling the collective bargaining dispute between 46 Ontario hospitals and 9,000 OPSEU paramedical employees (e.g. audiologists, lab technologists, occupational therapists, psychologists, pharmacists) has come down.  OPSEU reports the following:

Under the provisions of the award, which will be in effect from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2014, these employees will receive lump sum payments for the first two years, and an across-the-board wage increase of 2.75 per cent in the third year of the contract. The new contract also provides for early retirement benefits for employees aged 57-65, enhanced discrimination and harassment language, and a minor improvement to bereavement leave. The Hospitals’ proposed rollback of early retirement and voluntary exit incentives was rejected by the Arbitrator.  

OPSEU Hospital Professionals Bargaining Team Chair Sandi Blancher said that this award does not meet the expectations of the bargaining team or the members.  “We knew this round would be difficult ever since the government’s announcement in March 2010 that no funding would be provided for compensation increases to hospital workers,” Blancher said. 

“This interference in our bargaining made it impossible to achieve a satisfactory outcome. What makes this even harder to accept is that other public sector workers, as well as hospital executives, have achieved better results. Despite this, we are happy to have some stability for the next three years and the gains we have made will benefit our members for many years to come.”

The Ontario Hospital Association president and CEO Tom Closson commented as follows:   

"We believe that this was a very good award in today’s fiscally-constrained environment.  It is clearly superior to almost any other recent award or agreement between Ontario’s public and broader public sector employers and their unionized employees."

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