New Brunswick

Nurses union files labour complaint against Vitalité over 5% bonus for Restigouche nurses

The New Brunswick Nurses Union has filed a labour board complaint against the Vitalité Health Network over the five per cent bonus it announced for all current and future nurses at the Restigouche Hospital Centre.

Union calls premium to help recruit and keep nurses for psychiatric hospital bargaining in bad faith

The New Brunswick Nurses Union is at the bargaining table, negotiating its three collective agreements, but Vitalité bypassed that process by offering a bonus to only a small portion of the membership, alleged union president Paula Doucet. (Radio-Canada)

The New Brunswick Nurses Union has filed a labour board complaint against the Vitalité Health Network over a five per cent bonus it announced for all current and future nurses at the Restigouche Hospital Centre.

Vitalité says it's offering the salary premium to promote recruitment and retention at the psychiatric facility in Campbellton.

But the union accuses the regional health authority of bargaining in bad faith.

"The employer chose to bypass the collective bargaining process and communicate directly with NBNU members by unilaterally altering the compensation of these members at RHC only," the union said in a statement.

The Restigouche Hospital Centre in Campbellton is New Brunswick's psychiatric hospital. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

NBNU is currently negotiating three collective agreements, which include the members being offered the premium.

The union "fully supports the idea for recruitment and retention," given the "severe nursing shortage throughout all facilities in New Brunswick," said president Paula Doucet. 

However, "this is a tactic that only benefits a small portion of our membership and does not support the overall provincial recruitment and retention strategy."

Vitalité president and CEO Gilles Lanteigne was unavailable to comment Wednesday, said spokesperson Thomas Lizotte.

A New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 1.

The union said it was notified Sept. 13 of a memo Vitalité sent to registered nurses in Zone 5, the Restigouche area, about implementation of the premium for nurses who choose to work at the Restigouche Hospital Centre.

Lanteigne advised the Vitalité board of directors of the premium Tuesday night during its regular public meeting, which was held in Moncton.

It was part of an overall update on the "initiatives underway to transform" the Restigouche Hospital Centre.

In addition to the objective of promoting recruitment and retention, the premium recognizes the nursing specialty specific to a mental health and forensic psychiatry tertiary care centre, Lanteigne said. 

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