Charlottetown blood donor clinic staff want guaranteed minimum hours

Dave Stewart
Published on September 9, 2015

Part-time staff at Canadian Blood Services in Charlottetown are walking the picket line in a dispute over the number of hours they work each week. The workers want a guaranteed minimum and say they have been working without a contract since 2011. As of Friday afternoon, there was no progress reported between the two sides.

©Heather Taweel/The Guardian

A regular donor at the Charlottetown Blood Services clinic is donating his time in a different way this week.

Ken MacLeod of Charlottetown dropped by the picket line on Fitzroy Street on Wednesday to show his support for the 11 part-time workers who walked off the job Monday morning in a dispute over guaranteed hours.

“These girls are making a living, taking my gift of life as it’s called, and giving it to people who need it,’’ said MacLeod, who said he’s up to 275 donations of platelets. “Any support I can give to these young ladies I’m happy to do it.’’

Tanya Herrell, president of the local Nova Scotia Union of Public and Private Employees, said they’ve been without a contract since 2011.

They’re asking for more stability in terms of hours.

“We just want a guarantee in hours,’’ Herrell said. “Three of us are trained for every aspect of the clinic so we have been getting full time hours-plus over two years now. We know the hours are there.’’

A person needs to work a minimum of 18.75 hours per week to maintain benefits. Herrell said they want three employees to be guaranteed 30 hours, two employees at 22 hours and one at 18.75 hours.

The clinic on Fitzroy Street is closed this week in light of the labour disruption. Canadian Blood Services has tentatively scheduled a mobile clinic for Summerside later this month but haven’t decided if it will go ahead.

Herrell said staff need to be available around the clock, making it difficult to find other work to supplement their income.

Canadian Blood Services tries to schedule 70 blood donor appointments per day but said that due to missed appointments, etc., the number is likely closer to 100 lost appointments for the week.

“We’re urging our loyal P.E.I. donors to hold off and wait until we’re back working and can come back in the clinic and see us,’’ she said.

Peter MacDonald, director of donor relations for Canadian Blood Services in Atlantic Canada, assures Islanders blood and blood product deliveries to hospitals will continue.

“We’re not expecting any impact on patient care and will be able to supply hospitals with inventory from our national inventory. Supply won’t be interrupted in P.E.I. whatsoever,’’ MacDonald said.

In addition, Herrell said two workers have been told their jobs will be cut in February because the organization will begin using an automated system with kiosks to register donors.

MacDonald confirmed that information but added that “staff impacts of those changes aren’t confirmed yet and those are the things we’re talking about at the bargaining table.’’

Patti Hooley, who was on the picket line Wednesday, said her job is being eliminated.

“My job has already been eliminated . . . so I’m just here for support, really,’’ Hooley said. “The girls are just hoping for some guaranteed part-time hours. It’s not a lot to ask, I don’t think.’’

MacDonald declined to comment further on the issues that separate the two sides.