Union lacks confidence that 10% civil service cut can be managed without layoffs unless job security and retraining are strengthened to protect employees, says Joan Jessome.
Halifax (8 April 2010) - The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE) will not sign any new collective agreement that lacks job security and retraining provisions.
NSGEU president Joan Jessome spelled out the union's conditions Wednesday, one day after the province's NDP government tabled a new budget calling for a two-point increase (to 15%) in the harmonized provincial and federal sales tax (HST), limited income tax reductions (geared mainly to those in lower income ranges) and a 10% cut in the provincial public service.
Jessome said the timing of the budget announcement on civil service cuts was ironic, coming only days after NSGEU had tabled proposed new job security and retraining language in contract talks that began in February and are ongoing.
"I represent 20,000 public sector workers," Jessome told reporters. "We're under a wage freeze, a wage restraint, whatever you want to call it – it's 1% or under. We're looking at 1,000 civil service jobs out of the system," she added.
"I would say that the public sector in this province has certainly taken a hit. They certainly will be putting up with their fair share of the pain.... We will not settle an agreement without that (new language) in it," she said.
Jessome said she does not accept government assurances that the cuts can be made without a serious threat of layoffs.
"There's a chance through program review that there will be layoffs," she said. "That's why this job security language and retraining are so important to us. Because if a program is diminished, or no longer being offered, and the people that are delivering that program are not trained to do any other jobs within government, we want them to be able to be retrained."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
• Video on NSGEU site - Joan Jessome commenting on Nova Scotia budget