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Arbitrator awards OPSEU pharm techs big wage increase

Arbitrator awards OPSEU pharm techs big wage increase

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In 2010, the Ontario government told pharmacy technicians they would be regulated by the Ontario College of Pharmacists. Now, after a hard fought battle to demonstrate that value to employers, wages will finally reflect the increase in accountability.

On January 6, arbitrator Diane Gee awarded a six per cent wage increase for OPSEU registered pharmacy technician members in 60 bargaining units from hospitals across Ontario. The decision is retroactive to June 30, 2016.

“This award is long overdue,” says OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “These members had to dig into their own pockets to bring their qualifications up to the highest standards but were then told they didn’t deserve increased compensation. This was not acceptable and OPSEU fought for what was right and now these essential health care workers are being paid what they deserve.”

The total liability of this increase and subsequent retroactivity for the centrally participating hospitals is more than three millions dollars and is not subject to the current Government of Ontario’s irresponsible wage cap legislation, which was passed in November.

“Beyond a doubt, this recognizes the value that registered pharmacy technicians bring to Ontario and the people who depend on their skills, knowledge, and dedication to patient care,” said OPSEU First Vice President/Treasurer, Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “We are delighted with this award and will continue to fight for fairness and respect for all OPSEU members.”

The decision has far reaching and encouraging reverberations, says Sandi Blancher, chair of the OPSEU HPD Central Reclassification Committee that reviews these matters.

“This award is not only good for pharmacy technicians everywhere, but sets a terrific precedent for health care professionals of all stripes who have been forced into wages lower than what their qualifications call for,” she says. “This benchmark ensures maintained professionalism, excellence, and improves lives.”