Health care bargaining will continue to move forward in the New Year. The Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions, NSHA, and IWK completed three days of conciliation in November. While these days provided good discussion and some important progress towards a new collective agreement there is still a lot of work to do. Both sides are scheduled to meet again in January for another five days.
These continue to be a complex set of negotiations that require bringing together collective agreements from all four unions (NSGEU, CUPE, Unifor and NSNU) in the acute care and community care sectors.
So far, the parties have held 27 bargaining dates.
This was made necessary when the provincial Liberal government created a single provincial health authority.
Despite the progress, a number of very significant items remain outstanding including job posting, job security, sick leave, group benefits, retiree benefits, vacation scheduling, leaves, overtime, hours of work, and more.
This remains a long and challenging process but the Council of Health Care Unions is working well together to make sure progress continues on your behalf.
The task was made much more difficult when the provincial Liberal government enacted legislation freezing the retirement allowance for members and imposing wage restraint including two years of zero per cent increases.
In the meantime, the Council of Health Care Unions continues to work toward completing an essential services agreement with the IWK and NSHA. This agreement is being negotiated for the first time and was required by another Liberal Government piece of legislation, Bill 37. The legislation requires a high number of people to remain at work in the event of a strike, but leaves it to the parties to determine the exact numbers.
The essential services agreement covers all 6,500 health care bargaining unit member across the province, making it a very complex task. The Liberal legislation prohibits the health care unions from conducting a strike until an essential services agreement is reached. This, of course, has limited the Council’s leverage at the bargaining table as it attempts to negotiate new collective agreements. Once the essential services negotiations are complete in the coming months, the Council expects to make more progress in bargaining new collective agreements.
The Employers’ essential services negotiators walked away from the table in the summer and have refused to come back. We believe the Employers will return to the table to review the completed plan.
The Council of Health Care Unions bargaining committee is made up of six members from NSGEU, three from CUPE and one from Unifor. The NSNU is also part of the Health Care Council. Health Care Bargaining Council is the lead table in this round of health care negotiations. The committees representing administrative professionals, support and nursing are preparing to start their bargaining once an agreement is reached in health care.
While Health Care bargaining continues our members in the Civil Service, with the assistance of an arbitrator, have a new collective agreement in place. This agreement applies only to members covered under the Civil Service Master Agreement.
It is our hope that the New Year will bring a new collective agreement for our health care members.
For more information contact a member of the Health Care Bargaining Committee:
Shawn Fuller, Chief Negotiator