Early this morning, a Liberal majority government once again rushed a piece of anti-worker legislation through our House of Assembly. Bill 148, the Public Service Sustainability Act, gives this government the ability to force a wage pattern on more than 75,000 public sector workers, should any union signal they would like to exercise their right to arbitration.
“This legislation significantly hinders any union’s ability to negotiate a fair collective agreement for workers,” says NSGEU 1st Vice-President, Jason MacLean.
First, this government took away the right to strike for thousands of health care workers. Now, they’re further tipping the scales in favour of the employer during the bargaining process.
Bill 148 means the government will impose legislation without having been to the table with thousands of NSGEU members, including workers from acute care, home support, group homes, long-term care, school boards and many more areas. None of these workers have had the chance to fully discuss issues of concern with their employers and never will, as a result of this legislation, because they’ve removed the core incentive for an employer to bargain: wages.
“The Supreme Court of Canada has guaranteed that collective bargaining is a right protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” says MacLean, “The NSGEU will be taking legal action against this legislation, if it is proclaimed.”
The NSGEU also has significant concerns with the manner in which this legislation was forced through the House.
“The Liberals intentionally introduced a very controversial piece of legislation just days before Christmas, sat around the clock to ensure it passed as quickly as possible, and severely restricted the public’s ability to offer feedback through the Law Amendments process,” says MacLean.
“They also openly discriminated against a hearing impaired NSGEU member who sought to speak out against Bill 148, and early this morning, had me escorted by police out of the gallery for absolutely no reason. This type of bullying behaviour is not acceptable, especially from our elected officials.”