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Health and Community Services
May 19, 2009

Essential Employee Agreements Will Be in Place Across the Province

As members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union begin job action tomorrow the Provincial Government is notifying the public that essential employee agreements will be in place across the province.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, prior to the union being in a legal strike position, essential employee designations must be determined. Prior to conducting its strike vote, the nurses’ union and each regional health authority signed essential employee agreements. Last week, the regional health authorities wrote the nurses’ union requesting confirmation that the union will honour these essential employee agreements during the union’s strike.

“We are invoking an essential employees agreement to protect the level of service provided to patients across the province,” said the Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Health and Community Services. “This is not a lock-out. We cannot lock out a union that has officially notified its employers of strike action.”

The essential employee agreements between the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union and the regional health authorities provide a comprehensive agreement on staffing levels. Within the essential employee agreements the union and the regional health authorities agreed upon the specific number of staff in each unit and action plans are derived based on this agreement. An illustrative example of what was agreed to is as follows:
“Employees, other than those provided, who report to work will be immediately required to leave the premises by the Employer and will not be paid for any work completed.”

“I want to emphasize that the contents of these essential employee agreements are agreed to by both parties, while nurses exercise their legal right to strike,” said Minister Wiseman. “The nurses union agrees to exactly how many staff are assigned to each unit. The priority for our government and the regional health authorities is to ensure the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are not significantly impacted by this job action and appropriate staffing levels are in place.”

The regional health authorities are currently running advertisements to notify the public of service changes. The websites for each regional health authority also have information that is updated regularly. For specific information on service changes, please contact local health care facilities

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Media contact:
Ronalda Walsh
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 685-1741

2009 05 19            6:00 p.m.

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