Nurses first major strike in 1980

Collective bargaining did not get easier for the nurses, as their employers continued to refuse many of their proposals. In the next round of negotiations, in 1980, the nurses felt compelled to take strike action--this time involving sixty-four hundred nurses at 79 hospitals. Wage demands were at the heart of the problem-the nurses were looking for a 33.3 per cent salary increase. Nursing salaries had long been lagging behind and nurses at the time were making less than grocery check out clerks. Also at issue in the talks were scheduling provisions, the ability of nurses to take their accumulated benefits with them when they moved to another hospital and the nurses right to some professional authority, "the professional responsibility committee" provision.

The strike began on April 18th and by April 21st the Order-in-Council had been passed ordering them back to work - the same fines were threatened and the same compulsory arbitration imposed. But this time the nurses refused to return meekly to work. They stayed out on strike and launched court action to challenge the order.   The court arguments were well under way when, on April 27th, a negotiated settlement was reached and the nurses ended their strike. The settlement included a 39.8 per cent wage increase over two years, the scheduling improvements, the Professional Responsibility Committee and over 50 other improvements.

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