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An Open Letter to Union Members

In Friday’s issue of The Chronicle Herald, the Nova Scotia Liberal Party published an advertisement claiming the NSGEU sent false information to its members. That is not the case.

We had shared a link to an online article that claimed the Liberals were polling Nova Scotians on where they stood on the issue of banning health care strikes. Clearly, the right to strike is critical to our members and is a fundamental labour right we must protect. We were not taking a partisan position or attacking the Liberal party: had any political party done this polling, we would have brought the issue to the attention of our members.

The leader of the Liberal party, Stephen McNeil, claims that our email was a “baseless attack” on the party, and insinuates the information from the online article was false.

We have publicly asked McNeil whether or not they were polling on the issue of banning health care strikes, and he has repeatedly refused to either confirm or deny the Liberal party’s involvement in this polling.

We have since received a copy of the online poll, which was conducted by Probit and The Gandalf Group, which is a well-known Liberal polling firm (the Liberals are listed as a client on the firm’s website).

In this poll, people are asked how strongly they would support reducing nine District Health Authorities to one provincial board (Stephen McNeil’s proposed “superboard”), AND where they stand on the issue of banning health care strikes.

McNeil has since come out “unequivocally” in support of labour issues, supporting: “the collective bargaining process, the right to strike, protecting workers’ rights, both unionized and non-unionized.”

Which is great, but makes us wonder: Where would the Liberals stand on the right to strike if all healthcare workers fell under one “superboard”? Would they still be entitled to strike action, if necessary? And if the Liberals are so firmly in support of right to strike, why would they bother asking Nova Scotians about this issue?

In 2004, when the Rodney McDonald government was in power, our research showed that taking away the right to strike will only make healthcare wait times worse. Healthcare workers are more likely to move away if they are not able to achieve collective agreements that are fair.

We will continue to raise issues surrounding full and free collective bargaining rights into the future, and hope to hear back from Mr. McNeil with regards to our questions on polling.

In solidarity,

Joan Jessome, President, NSGEU

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