UPDATE: BC nurses union president on leave over ‘very serious allegations’

Gayle Duteil says the allegations are ‘a political issue’

The president of the BC Nurses Union has been put on administrative leave following what the organization is calling “very serious allegations” made against her in June.

In a letter to nurses posted to Facebook on Wednesday, Gayle Duteil says she has not returned to work yet because of the claim. She had originally gone on a medical leave in May to undergo treatment for breast cancer.

“I have been prohibited from attending at the union office, or attending any union-sponsored events pending the investigation and resolution of these false allegations,” Duteil wrote.

“Even though it has been over three months since the complaint was made, I have not been provided with the details of the complaint, or any explanation as to why I cannot attend union events, communicate with union staff, or perform my duties.”

When asked how she could deny the allegations when she hasn’t received any details, Duteil would only call it “a political issue.”

“I have not been made aware of any complaints in the past 4.5 months,” she said in a phone interview with Black Press.

Duteil had been acclaimed for another term as BCNU president in late spring.

Umar Sheikh, the union’s CEO and executive director, declined to comment on the nature or number of complaints, but said they began in June and continued into the fall. He added that the union has retained Vince Ready and Judi Korbin as arbitrators.

Duteil said she has retained lawyer Carman Overholt and filed complaints with the BC Labour Relations Board and the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

“I’ve taken this action to get my job back,” she said. “I’m prepared to stand strong for the nurses of British Columbia.”

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