I am pleased to present the Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland and Labrador (RNUNL) 2018-19 Annual Report.
This publication provides insight into the ongoing work of the union, and also gauges the valued opinions of our members, volunteers and the public. The annual report helps keep us accountable, setting benchmarks and performance indicators to ensure that we continue to work for you and the registered nursing profession.
What I love about the entire annual reporting process is that it allows us to identify our strengths and weaknesses. With knowledge, we have the power to make changes to better meet your needs. It also helps us gauge your expectations.
You set the bar, and we continually strive to exceed it.
In many areas this year, we did surpass our goals. Some examples include:
- We have 95% of our branch executive roles filled.
- We have increased the number of shop steward roles filled this year by 10%.
- Public satisfaction with the RNUNL is high at 94%.
- Increased popularity and use of the myRNU site and app.
- The rating for communications effectiveness increased to 78%.
- Labour Relations Officers are providing exceptional support to members.
Members and the public continue to rate us highly with regards to advocacy.
This report also helps identify areas that we need to work on.
An area of concern is that we continue to trend down in our overall performance rating. While our overall rating stayed consistent at 3.8 out of 5, the percentage of members rating us as high decreased to 63%.
We are troubled by this downward trend. I feel it is reflective of the challenges you face in the workplace. Our members are struggling to provide safe care and we know this is having an impact on their satisfaction with employers and their union.
This summer, members ratified a new contract that had significant improvements, including a workplace violence forum (already in early planning stages) and a core staffing review. The staffing review is a great win for our union, but it will take time to do it right. We are confident that this review is moving us in a better direction, but we know this does not address the workplace issues facing our members right now. In fact, 63% of members reported that the workplace has gotten worse in the last year.
While obtaining a staffing review is a great victory, we know we have to fight to ensure recommendations are implemented and to keep government accountable. Violence, 24-hour shifts, understaffing…the issues are plentiful and they are leading to burnout, frustration and fatigue.
We were startled, but unfortunately not surprised, to see that 84% of members feel that understaffing has resulted in unsafe conditions for patients, while 89% believe current workload is increasing burnout and fatigue. Of course, working conditions are not the only factor at play here. The ongoing wage freeze is also elevating our members’frustration. As your Board begins strategizing for the next round of bargaining, we have already identified salary increases as a priority.
Looking to the year ahead, I know there will be challenges but there will also be opportunities. We will continue to maximize on these opportunities and knock down any hurdles we meet along the way.
We are stronger when we stand together.
Debbie Forward, RN
President, Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland & Labrador