Health Care Bargaining Unit: Bargaining Update: Your Bargaining Committee Needs Your Support!

Nova Scotia Healthcare Workers are Among the Lowest Paid in Canada, Government’s Offer Would Keep Us There. Government offered healthcare workers less than Crown Attorneys and Paramedics at IUOE

Bargaining broke down Wednesday, June 30th between the Health Care Council of Unions and Nova Scotia Health (NSH), the IWK and the Province after the government and the employers failed to respond to a comprehensive settlement proposed by the unions.

The Council, which represents more than 7,500 NSGEU, CUPE and Unifor members across Nova Scotia, must now begin a province-wide health care strike vote on Monday, July 5th to show that members will back their committee’s proposals.

At the beginning of the third and final day of conciliation on Wednesday, the Province and the employers tabled a comprehensive settlement that included a wage offer which was far less than wage settlements provided recently to other public sector workers, such as Crown Attorneys and Paramedics with the IUOE.

The unions tabled a counter offer just before 3 p.m. Wednesday. The Province and the employers announced an hour later they would not have any further responses that day and did not know when or how they would respond in the future.

“That effectively ended conciliation and left the unions with no choice but to pursue a strike vote,’ said NSGEU President Jason MacLean. “It is now in Premier Iain Rankin’s hands to decide whether to reach a fair settlement with these critical workers.”

Your committee needs you to vote in favour of a strike. A strong strike vote is the only way to send government a message that your committee has overwhelming support to achieve a fair deal on your behalf.

Beginning next week, all NSGEU members will receive a ballot email to their work and personal emails with a PIN number which will allow them to vote electronically. To make sure the NSGEU has an email on file for you, please call the NSGEU at 902-424-4063.

If anyone in your workplace does not receive the ballot email, please urge them, to call us as soon as possible.

Any new information or updates will be communicated to members immediately. It is unclear whether or when the province and Employers may respond the Unions’ last offer. If we receive a response that is fair and reasonable, the unions will bring it to the membership for a ratification vote.

“After hailing health care workers as ‘heroes’ for the past 16 months, the Rankin government walked away from the table forcing health care worker to take strike action to achieve a fair collective agreement,” added MacLean.

The Council wrote to Premier Iain Rankin on June 22nd, formally requesting that any unresolved issues, such as wages, be referred to an arbitrator so workers would not be put in a position of having to take strike action to reach an agreement. The Premier denied that request.

“It is unconscionable that these health care ‘heroes’ can suddenly go to ‘zeroes’ at the bargaining table. These workers certainly deserve to be shown more respect from their employer and government. Instead, this government offered them less than they gave other public sector workers in the last two years.”

Wages for many health care workers have fallen below where they should be in comparison to other provinces. This is in large part due to seven years of austerity by the Provincial government.

These types of wage disparities will only make health shortages worse in Nova Scotia.

NSGEU and Unifor’s strike vote will start Monday and CUPE’s vote starts Tuesday. We expect to have the results of that strike vote on July 9th, which could put health care workers in a legal strike position as early as the third week of July.

Essential Services

In the meantime, essential services legislation passed by the provincial Liberal government requires the Council and employers to negotiate an essential services plan. That plan will determine how many people in each work area must remain at work in the event of a strike.

The Council has completed the essential services plan for the IWK. Our efforts to conclude a plan with the NSH have been unsuccessful so far. As a result, earlier this week, the Council of Unions referred the NSH essential services plan to the Labour Board. The Labour Board is required to help the parties resolve a plan within 30 days or sooner.

On Wednesday, the NSH, in an effort to further stall the process, wrote the board and asked them to delay their involvement in resolving an essential services plan. The NSH argued the parties should continue bargaining on their own. Lawyers for the Council of Unions is responding to the NSH request today (Friday July 2nd). We will update you on the Board’s decision.

Please make sure you vote, and ask your coworkers to vote, as well! Your committee needs your support now to send a clear message to government and employers that health care workers deserve more than false praise at weekly COVID briefings: they deserve results with a fair contract!

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