On February 28 and March 1, Bill 30 – Essential Home-support Services Act was quickly passed by the Legislature. This legislation was intended to stop our Home Support members from achieving their rightful demand of parity with CCAs who work in hospitals and do the same work as our members.
Instead, the government and the Home Support agencies were hoping this Bill will force our members to agree to the last offer of the government which was rejected by all our Home Support Locals across the province.
Taking effect on Mar. 1, Bill 30 makes sure that no strikes can be continued or started by our Home Support members until an essential services agreement is worked out between the Union and each employer which could easily take up to a year with any disputes having to go to the Labour Board.
The provisions of this Bill are unworkable, and are very clearly designed to undermine our members’ right to strike and their right to full and free collective bargaining. Now that it is in place, this Bill could easily be used to apply to any other group of healthcare or other public sector members who are likely or expected to go on strike.
Bill 30 is an abuse of power by the McNeil government, and a betrayal of their pre-election commitments to respect and not interfere with the collective bargaining process. I have launched preparations for a legal challenge of Bill 30 in the courts which could begin later this year.
In the meantime, each of our Home Support Locals will be meeting to determine what our members want to do in response to the Bill.
At the same time, I want to make it clear that the Union remains strongly opposed to Bill 30 and any future similar legislation. While not all members of NSGEU have the right to strike, all members have benefitted over several rounds of bargaining because three-quarters of our members do have this right.
I look forward to your continuing support with this important struggle.
Joan Jessome, President
Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union