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Irene Gyba, right, takes blood from donor Pierre Talbot at a clinic in Montreal in 2012. Nursing personnel at Héma-Québec are planning a one-day strike in Montreal on March 13.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Nursing staff at Héma-Québec are planning a one-day strike in Montreal as their union asks to maintain pay equity with public-sector staff.

The job action on Monday is expected to disrupt activities at the donation centres and headquarters of the not-for-profit organization, which supplies blood to Quebec’s health care system, the Syndicat du personnel infirmier d’Héma-Québec said in a statement. It is the fifth such strike since July for the Montreal union, which is affiliated with the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (SPI-CSQ).

Their counterparts in Québec City, the Syndicat des infirmières et infirmières auxiliaires d’Héma-Québec, held a similar strike on Friday. The collection of certain blood groups were suspended and plasma donors were forced to reschedule their appointments, said the union, which is affiliated with the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (SIIA-CSN), in a release.

Collective agreements for both unions expired in March, 2019. The main sticking point in the continuing negotiations is pay equity with nursing staff in the public system, which the unions say is in jeopardy.

“There is no valid reason that justifies the employer offering Héma-Québec nurses and nursing assistants anything other than pay parity with the public health and social services network,” said Nancy Landry, the SPI-CSQ president.

According to the unions, Héma-Québec’s current offers mean nursing assistants could make $72,000 less than their counterparts in the health care system over their entire careers, and nurses $11,000 less.

Héma-Québec declined to comment on the salary offers out of respect for the negotiations process. Spokesperson Patrice Lavoie said in an interview that the strikes forced reorganizations, including management stepping in to fulfill striking staff tasks, but that they had a limited impact on blood supply as essential services, including the collection of much-needed or rare blood types, are not affected.

Both the SPI-CSQ and the SIIA-CSN say maintaining pay equity with the public system is important in the context of widespread labour shortages, particularly acute in health care. Mr. Lavoie said Héma-Québec faces recruitment challenges no different than the rest of the industry.

Talks are scheduled to resume on March 13, 15, and 16 with the SIIA-CSN, and on March 17, 22, and 30 with the SPI-CSQ, Mr. Lavoie said. He said he is confident a satisfactory agreement will be reached.

Quebec’s Treasury Board Secretariat also said in an e-mail that it is confident an agreement will be reached in a reasonable time and underscored that Héma-Québec already reached agreements with 76 per cent of its unionized staff. The secretariat did not answer The Globe and Mail’s questions about pay.

Asked if conditions imposed by the Treasury Board were preventing the organization from offering to maintain pay equity with the public nursing staff, Mr. Lavoie said he could not speak on the matter but that “as a parapublic company, it is certain that we must validate our negotiation mandates with the Treasury Board” with respect to financial resources.