Support SUN!

I’ve seen nurses in action and I know their issues are real.  A friend, who shall remain nameless, is a nurse and she has confirmed the issues to be real for her, too.  She also told me that she is unable to take her vacation leave because of the heavy workload she faces.  Still, she wants to stay in SK because she loves this part of the world.

The nursing profession has been sold short for much too long.  I am happy to see the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses standing up not only for their rights, but also for patients’ rights in the province.

The body they’re negotiating with, however, leaves a lot to be desired.  The President and CEO Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO), Susan Antosh, is playing aggressive and dirty politics through the media, suggesting that SUN’s requests at the bargaining table are all about money.  From SAHO’s latest news release:

The total wage increase from the 2007 rates is the equivalent of a 34.9% increase for general duty nurses or 37.6% increase for nurses with 20 years or more experience.

The complete proposal package by SAHO continues to support the spirit of the Government/SUN Partnership Agreement and SAHO’s participation at the Partnershp meetings.  SAHO has addressed key recruitment and retention initiatives raised by SUN and has removed many of the initial management proposals.  The remaining management proposals are directly related to the employers’ ability to provide quality patient care and to respond to the health needs of Saskatchewan residents.

SUN’s response?

SUNBurst sent to members May 26, p.m.
Update from the Negotiations Committee at 1715 May 26, 2008.

SUN’s Negotiations Committee sent the following message to SAHO through the conciliation officer:
SUN’s last position, tabled on May 26, 2008 at 0300 is SUN’s firm position for a new collective agreement that supports the SUN/Government Partnership, retention and recruitment of RNs/RPNs and a workplace environment that SUN members desperately need repaired.
SAHO’s proposals would permit Regional Health Authorities to abolish vacancies – in violation of the SUN/Government Partnership.
SAHO’s proposals would permit Regional Health Authorities to replace RNs/RPNs with other providers – in violation of the SUN/Government Partnership.
SAHO’s proposal on professional standards does not protect patient safety or provide professional practice environments essential for retention and recruitment.
SAHO’s proposals on monetary items is far short of the mandate and will not make Saskatchewan competitive with Alberta.
Our committee will not accept a four year agreement under these terms and we will not recommend acceptance of an agreement that does not meet our urgent priorities.

So, someone’s not telling the entire truth here.  Seems to me that since it’s SAHO that has taken this to the public sphere, they’d be the culprits.  And, given that SUN ends their news release with

Remember – do not believe anything unless you hear it from the Union.

it appears that SUN believes Antosh is playing dirty politics, too.

All I know is that I would trust a nurse with my life long, long before I’d trust the CEO of an organization who tries to portray nurses as money-grabbers!


UPDATED: SK Nurses have strike mandate

Update: SUN AND SAHO to continue bargaining

<> Today, through the conciliator, SUN received a message from SAHO indicating they have a revised mandate and are asking SUN to return to the bargaining table. It is our understanding that SAHO will also remove most of their proposals when we return to the table. SUN will not undertake strike action as we permit negotiations to occur.

The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) have voted “decisively in favour of a strike.” The vote found 77 percent of iSUN’s members in support of strike action in the union’s current negotiations with the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO).

“Nurses are tired of seeing patient safety compromised,” said Rosalee Longmoore, SUN President. “They’re tired of working the long hours with no relief in sight. They want their voices heard. And with their votes, they’re sending a message loud and clear – it’s time to get serious about retaining the nursing workforce and recruiting for the future if we are to be able to keep our health care system – and the safety of patients – from deteriorating any further.”

This is an interesting development in organized labour’s struggle against the SaskParty government’s Bills 5 and 6 which have been deemed anti-worker, ant-union and anti-woman. Stay tuned for more!

Nurses livid! Proposal “most regressive in SUN’s history”!

There’s so much going on in this province right now, most of it quite frightening. I’m going to start with the most recent and work my way back as time permits over the course of the weekend. This media advisory, from the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses outlines the attack on nurses in SK. This, at a time when SK is experiencing unprecedented economic growth!

Friday, April 4, 2008
<<<Regina>>>The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses says that the province’s regional health authorities have tabled the most regressive contract proposals in SUN’s history, and has predicted that hundreds of nurses will either resign or retire early in response.
The union is calling for the Minister of Health to replace the department officials and regional health authority leadership that is responsible for what SUN President Rosalee Longmoore describes as “a destructive and malicious attack on nurses and safe patient care and a crude attempt to tear up the SUN/Government Partnership.”
Longmoore says, “They are refusing to commit to fill current vacancies, because they are using the vacancies to balance their budgets. Instead, they have submitted proposals that would require nurses to work unlimited overtime. That’s not a retention strategy – that’s a detention strategy that will backfire -nurses cannot work more and more overtime. They have a professional obligation to refuse more overtime if they are too tired to provide safe patient care. They will refuse, or they will just quit.”
SUN says that regional health authorities want to muzzle nurses who report instances where safe patient care is being jeopardized. According to Longmoore, “Nurses went on strike in 1988 and 1999 to get the right to report in writing to supervisors when patient care is jeopardized. Nurses are obligated by legislation and professional standards to protect patient safety – we will never give that up.”
“The Minister of Health is going to have to decide – how long is he going to continue to let his own Ministry officials and regional health authorities try to tear up the SUN/Government Partnership and avoid implementing it? How would the worst contract in SUN’s history help the government achieve its retention and recruitment targets? The retention and recruitment proposals from the Partnership must be binding in the collective agreement, or regional health authorities will continue to defy the Minister,” said Longmoore.
The union has advised Conciliator Doug Forseth that they are adjourning contract talks until after their annual meeting on April 23-25.
To speak to a SUN representative, please call:
Rosalee Longmoore, SUN President (306) 539-6162 (cell)