Information about Bill 148 and what it means to you:
We have launched our challenge to Bill 148 on behalf of our Civil Service members
Earlier today, August 30, NSGEU, through its legal counsel, served Notice of Intended Action in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in which we claim that Bill 148 contravenes s. 2(d) (Freedom of Association) of the Charter of Rights in regards to Civil Service bargaining. Attached are the NSGEU’s documents, prepared and filed by Pink Larkin.
As you can see, the fight for a fair collective agreement is not over and we will be using all the legal means we have to fight Bill 148.
On Wed. Sept. 6, the NSGEU along with seven other unions led by the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour (NSFL) announced at a press conference that we were seeking party status in the review of Bill 148 by the Court of Appeal. Click here for press release
Rally against Bill 148 – September 21, 12 noon – 3 p.m. at the legislature
When Premier McNeil opens the Legislature on September 21, the NSGEU will be there as part of a rally of organized labour from across Nova Scotia. If you are able to attend it is of the utmost importance you do so. Please save the date and spread the word. Watch your inbox for more details.
On August 22, Stephen McNeil brought into effect Bill 148 – Public Services Sustainability (2015) Act. This Bill does two things:
- Imposes a non negotiated wage settlement
- Restricts collective bargaining on wages and salaries by imposing maximum increases.Freezing wage rates for a two year period from the expiry of the current collective agreement
- Restrains increases in wage rates for the remaining two years following the freeze at 1% in the third year, and 1.5% in the fourth year, with an additional 0.5% on the last day of the fourth year
- Imposes a four year term on renewal of expired collective agreements except the collective agreements of municipalities and universities
- Prohibits interest arbitrators from awarding rates of pay inconsistent with the four year restraint scheme
- Uses Legislation to unilaterally remove longstanding articles from collective agreements.
- There will be no further accrual of retirement allowances after April 1, 2015and ends the benefit altogether for new hires after April 1, 2015.
- It prohibits the crediting of any service after April 1, 2015 in calculating the payment of a payment on resignation or retirement which is based on service
- It requires the amount of the payment based on service before April 1, 2015 to be paid at the wage rates in effect immediately before April 1, 2015
- No employee hired on or after April 1, 2015 will be eligible for a payment on resignation or retirement based on service
- Unions may not negotiate any new service award on retirement or resignation which is inconsistent with Bill 148
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the government of British Columbia acted unconstitutionally when it stripped away previously negotiated sections of the BC Teacher’s Agreement. What the McNeil government is trying to do here with Bill 148 is the same thing.
The Premier and his Minister said numerous time, they had sent Bill 148 to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal for a legal opinion on its constitutionality. An opinion they said with confidence would come back in their favour.
However, less than 48 hours later we found out this is not the whole truth.
What you can do to help:
The McNeil Government only sent sections 7 through 19 of the Bill to the court. They did not submit the section that strips us of our retirement allowances. We do not think this Bill is constitutional and we are asking members to contact your local MLA and encourage them to pressure McNeil to submit the entire Bill 148 to the court for review. (See below for a link to a page where you can find contact information for your MLA).
If your MLA is a Liberal I also encourage you to ask them if McNeil was honest with them when he told them about sending Bill148 for review. With a slim majority Liberal MLAs need to know we will be holding them to account as well.
The NSGEU will be continuing to challenge this legislation in the courts on your behalf. All that remains to be determined is if we do it ourselves or if we will do it in concert with others in the labour movement through the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour.
I am asking you as my MLA, to do whatever you can to pressure Premier McNeil to send the entire Bill 148 to the Court of Appeal to be tested for its constitutionality. As you may know, to date, he has sent only select parts to the Court.
Bill 148 interferes in the free collective bargaining process for over 75,000 workers like me in Nova Scotia and flies in the face of Premier McNeil’s promise to respect collective bargaining. It contravenes our rights to belong to a union that can freely negotiate terms of my contract and will make things worse for myself and my fellow workers and our families in Nova Scotia.
The Bill puts a cap on what an arbitrator can fairly decide. Arbitration exists for a variety of specific reasons, some members do not have the right to strike, others may need the assistance of a third party to resolve an impasse. Arbitration works. It has helped employers and workers find resolutions to disputes that are fair and reasonable (even if neither side likes them). Handcuffing the arbitrator skews bargaining in favour of one side – it interferes with a process that works and makes it unfair.
Even more terribly, Bill 148 also includes provisions that strip a fairly negotiated benefit from our collective agreement – the retirement allowance. This benefit was negotiated as early as the late 70s for some members and we have all had to give up something in return for the benefit – might have been a raise, might have been another benefit, it depends on the collective agreement. If our bargaining teams are not bargaining it away, we don’t think it can be stripped from us. We believe this will not pass a constitutional test.
As your constituent, and someone who provides valuable public services to Nova Scotians every day, I ask you once again to do what you can to pressure Premier Stephen McNeil to refer the entire Bill for a constitutional test a the Court of Appeals, not just those sections he thinks he will win.
Thank you for your time and attention today,
We will be adding information here. Check back for the latest about what we are doing to challenge this Bill.
Links to Media:
NSGEU Press releases:
Messages from NSGEU President Jason MacLean to members:
Jason MacLean Interviewed on CTV by Steve Murphy about Local 148 – http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1193658
MacLean vs McNeil – Halifax Examiner – https://www.halifaxexaminer.ca/province-house/examineradio-126-maclean-vs-mcneil/
Union turns up heat over lost retirement bonus for Nova Scotia’s public sector – Canadian Press – http://www.humboldtjournal.ca/union-turns-up-heat-over-lost-retirement-bonus-for-nova-scotia-s-public-sector-1.22166003
Union cries foul over limited constitutional review of wage package deal – CBC – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/union-nsgeu-bill-148-constitutional-review-wage-package-deal-1.4261028
NS Liberals leave out contentious portion of Bill 148 in request for constitutional review – Global News – http://globalnews.ca/news/3693046/liberals-bill-148-constitutional-review/
NS Premier under fire for MLA’s transition allowances – CTV News – http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/n-s-premier-under-fire-for-mla-s-transition-allowances-1.3558810
Unions condemn Grits for proclaiming bill imposing wage package – CBC – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/labour-relations-stephen-mcneil-bill-148-nurses-civil-service-workers-1.4257266
Unions request party status at review of Bill 148 at Court of Appeal – CBC – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/seven-nova-scotia-unions-want-legal-right-to-fight-bill-148-1.4277122