Statement from NSGEU President Joan Jessome

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Statement from NSGEU President Joan Jessome

For the last 30 years, health care workers in Nova Scotia could choose their own union and bargain their own agreements.

Next week, employers will help pick the health workers’ union and their benefits. And the process must ensure the most harmonious union is chosen.

All workers in Canada, including healthcare workers, have for decades had the right to choose their union. That is the law.

The same law, the Trade Union Act, also prohibits employers from choosing unions for their employees. Of course it does. It makes no sense to have employers influence who bargains for employee rights. And the law gave workers the right to bargain for their collective agreement rights.

Stephen McNeil and the Liberals just introduced legislation – Bill 1 – which makes it illegal for healthcare workers to choose their union.

But it’s worse. The legislation in Section 86 (1) then goes on to give the employer the right to help select the union for employees.

Under section 86 (c) (iii) the Bill allows the employer to help decide what collective agreement benefits employees must accept.

Section 90 (2) instructs the mediator / arbitrator to choose the most harmonious union and allows the employer the ability to help select that union.

“This is an unjustifiable infringement on the union and its members’ rights to freedom of association,” says President Joan Jessome.

“It’s an infringement on their right to form and join a trade union of their choosing, and to have that union bargain collectively on their behalf. It’s one of the worst pieces of labour legislation we’ve ever seen in Canada. Healthcare workers deserve the right to decide themselves on their Union and their benefits, not the employer.”


The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union represents over 30,000 women and men who provide quality public services Nova Scotians count on every day.

For more information or to arrange an interview with NSGEU President, Joan Jessome, please contact:

Holly Fraughton, NSGEU Communications Officer

424.4063 (office)

471.1781 (cell)

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