President’s Response to Premier’s Comments

Good afternoon,

NSGEU members and staff are busy preparing for the next round of bargaining with our members working in the acute health care system, and for our civil servants. However, as we prepare to bargain in good faith, our Premier is once again undermining our efforts by bargaining through the media.

This morning, in All Nova Scotia (a subscription based news service), it was reported that Stephen McNeil stated the wage increases recently accepted by the Crown Prosecutors (7.2 per cent over four years) will set an “affordable” pattern for the entire public sector.

Mr. McNeil needs to understand a few things:

  1. Smaller groups, like the paramedics or Crown Attorneys, have never established wage patterns for the larger public sector;
  2. You cannot simultaneously claim “our economy is thriving,” handout millions of dollars in tax cuts to corporations, and then turn to public sector workers and say, “sorry, your wage increases won’t even keep up with the cost of inflation.”

NSGEU members did their part to help Mr. McNeil artificially balance the province’s budget when they were forced to accept ZERO per cent wage increases during the last round of legislated bargaining (Bill 148). Meanwhile, the cost of housing, insurance and transportation has gone through the roof; Nova Scotia Power and water rates have continued to rise; and it costs more and more to put food on the table.

But on a more fundamental level, workers deserve some basic respect from this Premier. They deserve to be afforded the right to full, fair collective bargaining (as enshrined in the Constitution), which is free from the meddlesome influence of a Premier who doesn’t understand that – given his negotiating track record – his place is basically anywhere BUT seated at the bargaining table across from our members.

He needs to leave bargaining up to the professionals, and get back to governing.

Meanwhile, your representatives will do their part to prepare for bargaining, with the goal of achieving the best possible collective agreement for our members. We need you to participate in bargaining surveys, pay attention to what happens as bargaining progresses, and be prepared to stand up to support your bargaining committee, when the time comes. Stay tuned!

In solidarity,

Jason MacLean

President, NSGEU

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