Mike Thomas/Yukon News file According to Steve Geick, president of the Yukon Employees’ Union, roughly 300 hospital employees are to hold a strike vote this week in response to heavier workloads compounded by dwindling staff.

Hospital workers are holding a strike vote this week

Potential job action hinges on what comes out of negotiations this month

Roughly 300 hospital employees are to hold a strike vote this week in response to what their union says are heavier workloads compounded by dwindling staff.

If there’s an impasse at the bargaining table later this month, workers could take action.

Negotiations between the Yukon Employees’ Union (YEU) and the Yukon Hospital Corporation (YHC) will resume on Feb. 14 and 15 followed by a cooling-off period.

“The services are expanded at the hospital,” said Steve Geick, president of the Yukon Employees’ Union, adding that so, too, is demand. “They’re asking people to do more work with less numbers, and it’s getting to the point where people are calling in sick, they’re going off on stress leave, they’re looking for other employment, so the situation isn’t getting any better.

“We need something in place to be able to manage that workload.”

Workers that are slated to vote include licensed practical nurses, X-ray and lab technicians and administrative staff.

“Just about every other position at the hospital, basically, except for the registered nurses,” Geick said.

Registered nurses aren’t included because they are part of a different union.

“We have to remain hopeful that with the help of the federal mediator that we can come to some kind of an agreement. It’s kind of a wait-and-see thing,” Geick said. “There’s nothing happening immediately.”

The contract in question expired in August 2017, with bargaining beginning in November of that year, Geick said. A federal mediator was eventually brought in.

Matt Davidson, spokesperson for the YHC, told the News a contingency plan exists in the event of a strike, but stopped short of providing specifics.

“I can’t really get into detail on it now,” he said. “I’m not really privy to it at this moment.”

Asked if certain services could be cancelled Davidson said, “Essential services would remain in the event of (a strike), but I really can’t speculate until we see what happens,” referring to the results of the strike vote and how negotiations progress.

He said the main focus of the hospital right now is to keep everyone negotiating.

“We’re keeping all lines of communication open,” Davidson said. “We are committed to working closely with the union to reach an agreement at the bargaining table.

“Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that employees are supported and have the tools they need to continue delivering safe and excellent care.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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