first major strike in 1980
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.