11/03/2012 04:06 EDT | Updated 01/03/2013 05:12 EST

B.C. health care workers vote in favour of strike action

Health care workers in B.C. have voted 96 per cent in favour of strike action.

Members of the 11-union Facilities Bargaining Association voted during two weeks of balloting, which wrapped up late Friday.

FBA spokesperson Bonnie Pearson says the vote sends a crystal clear message to health employers and government.

"Health care workers have overwhelmingly rejected employer demands that they take on more costs as a pre-condition for even a minimal wage increase," Pearson said in a written release.

"It's clear that government and public sector employers can settle agreements in some sectors within government's overall negotiating mandate. I'll be urging health employers to return to the table with a more flexible approach to our talks."

The Facilities collective agreement covers about 46,000 health care workers — from ambulance paramedics to health records staff to sterile supply technicians.

The Hospital Employees’ Union is the lead union in the Facilities Bargaining Association and represents 70 per cent of the workers covered by the agreement.

The unions and their employer have been negotiating since February. Their current contract expired in March.