Civil Service Bargaining Update: Interest Arbitration Award

Arbitrator Susan Ashley today released an award outlining the mediated settlement reached between your NSGEU Union Negotiating Committee (UNC) and the Province.
That award, which can be found here, provides wage increases of 6.5 percent non-compounded in a three-year deal beginning April 1, 2021, and concluding March 31, 2024.
The Union negotiating committee had been seeking wage increases that would help offset the ongoing high costs of inflation. The Province had argued Civil Servants should be required to follow public sector wage patterns established prior to the onset of inflation.
With the help of Arbitrator Ashley, the parties were able to conclude a mediated settlement. Under section 27 of the Civil Service Act, Arbitrator Ashley issued an award detailing the settlement.
Key elements of the settlement include:
April 1, 2021 – 1.5%
April 1, 2022 – 1.5%
April 1 2023 – 3.0%
March 31, 2024 – 0.5%
A vacation improvement – employees will now receive five weeks of vacation beginning at 14 years of service instead of 15.
Increasing shift and weekend premiums by $0.50 an hour on the date of the arbitration award to match health care.
Increasing standby pay on the last day of the agreement (March 31, 2024) to $20 per day, $40 on holidays, to match health care.
Establishing a pay equity committee to undertake a systematic review of pay equity in the clerical bargaining unit.
Establishing a committee to continue with the implementation of Community Services recommendations related to issues like standby and retention for child welfare social workers.
An agreement to limit expressions of interest in new positions in your own classification and same department to one per year.
An agreement that the Employer may designate 10 job postings per year for diversity hires.
Effective the date of the arbitration award, the threshold for kilometrage under Article 32 will be raised from 16,000 km to 20,000 km for all employees for the life of the current agreement. For clarity, the threshold will revert back to 16,000 km at midnight on March 31, 2024.
An earlier employee option for the removal of disciplinary action of a verbal or written warning after three (3) years of continuous service from the date the disciplinary action was taken request in writing that the personnel file be cleared instead of being destroyed after 4 years have elapsed.
Other language-related improvements that help enhance your terms and conditions of employment were agreed to at the table and can be found here.
While the 3.5 percent combined increase in the third year is among the highest economic adjustments achieved in Nova Scotia in the last 25 years in large public sector bargaining, the committee recognizes more will still need to be done in the future to offset inflation.
Improvements were also achieved by the Subcommittee on the relief MOA that will bring improvements to relief employees. You can read the Subcommittee Report here.
“I am proud of the committee for their dedication and outstanding work on behalf of our Civil Service members,” NSGEU President Sandra Mullen said. “They’ve made a number of important gains including a solid first step in addressing the challenges members face from inflation.”
The Union’s submissions to the arbitration panel made clear the impact inflation was having on members’ salaries. These submissions and the committee’s tenacity helped the union achieve the goal of re-establishing the public sector pattern which was initially set prior to inflation taking hold in 2021.
“The NSGEU will now have to build on this achievement with tables that expire in 2022 and when civil service returns to bargaining in about 20 months,” said Mullen
The Union will hold a telephone town hall meeting on Monday, June 13 beginning at 7 pm. Details on the call will follow soon. This will allow members to ask any questions they might have about the new agreement.
The Union and the Province met for collective bargaining on five occasions in May 2021 and continued collective bargaining with the assistance of a conciliation officer in September and November of 2021.
On November 22nd, 2021, the Nova Scotia Labour Board established an Arbitration Board to settle the remaining terms for the renewal of the collective agreement, pursuant to Section 23(2) of the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act.
The NSGEU and the Province agreed to mediation in advance of the arbitration. That mediation took place on Sunday, May 8, and Monday, May 9.
While the Union and Employer had several productive exchanges, the parties were unable to reach a deal.
The parties proceeded to a binding arbitration Friday, June 3, and once again chose to continue to mediation for the first part of the day. It was then that the parties concluded a deal.
A three-person mediation-arbitration panel assisted in the mediation phase. The mediation-arbitration panel consists of an NSGEU-appointed nominee, labour lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo. The employer’s nominee is long-time civil servant Rollie King. The parties subsequently agreed on Susan Ashley as the independent Chair of the Arbitration Board.
Under Section 27 of the Civil Service Act, any agreement reached following the appointment of the arbitrator and in the mediation required that it be issued as an award by the Board.
Negotiations were difficult and lengthy and in the end, neither side achieved everything they hoped. However, the government allowed the collective bargaining process to play out as it should.
The current collective agreement expired on March 31, 2021.

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