March 9, 2010 8:32 pm

Alberta nurses’ are not happy with contract proposal

Alberta’s nurses’ union was very upset Tuesday after a contract proposal put forward by Alberta’s health superboard which is calling for rollbacks in salaries, benefits, scheduling protections and many other areas of the contract.

"They are being intentionally provocative in their proposals," said a news release from Heather Smith, president of the United Nurses of Alberta. "It’s an extreme proposal that we think is unreasonable. Trying to push nurses back won’t move health care forward. It’s unfortunate we have to begin negotiations with this exaggerated posturing from the employer."

The union exchanged contract proposals with Alberta Health Services on Monday. Negotiation meetings have been set up for March and April. The current nursing contract expires March 31.

"Our health-care system is still struggling with a nursing shortage and too few beds," Smith said in the release. "More nurses, more beds, more care is what Albertans need.

In the nurses’s proposal, they call for a two-year contract and asked for wage increases of four per cent each year. They also want the authority to call in more staff when needed, and to stop taking in new patients in hospital units if they pose a safety concern.

"We offered to leave almost all of the contract as is, and just focus on crucial improvements, but the employers said they could not do that," Smith said. "I’m disappointed that they are attempting to manipulate nurses and Albertans when there are real health-care issues to be addressed."

With files from The Edmonton Journal

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