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BC to withhold BCNU contract details until other unions reach deals

The British Columbia government won't say how it is funding wage hikes for the B.C. Nurses' Union until all health labour contracts are completed, Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid said today.

The BCNU agreement is among the first to be completed under the co-operative gains mandate, where raises or other cost increases are to be funded through savings found in existing budgets without reducing services.

"I would think this would be of interest to many people," acknowledged MacDiarmid, but said she won't release the co-operative gains details until all other health sector unions have completed their negotiations and reached agreements.

Previously a health ministry official had said further details wouldn't be released until the BCNU members ratified their agreement.

The two-year contract, which BCNU members voted 85 percent in favour of in a vote that closed Oct. 18, includes a three percent raise on April 1, 2013 and a lengthening of the work week from 36 to 37.5 hours.

BCNU President Debra McPherson previously said the longer week would reduce overtime and increase productivity, thus saving the government money. She also said the added hours amount to a 4.16 percent raise.

MacDiarmid said the reduced overtime would save money, but she could not say how much, nor how much is currently being paid.

She said she is pleased with the deal and hopes others will reach agreements before long. Eventually the government will be transparent on how it is funding the deals, she said. "We are going to give a lot of detail in time."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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