"Thank you for using your voice to protect and advance the rights of patients in our health care system." — James Clancy, NUPGE National President.
Halifax (04 April 2014) — At 7:30 a.m. on April 4, the Liberal government used its majoarity in the Legislature to pass the Essential Health and Community Services Act (Bill 37). The bill was opposed by both opposition parties, the New Democrats and the Progressive Conservatives.
Essential Health and Community Services Act restricts the right to strike for over 35,000 public service workers
Even though this labour dispute between members of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE) and the Capital District Health Authority only affected 2,300 members, the government's legislation extends to approximately 35,000 health and community workers across the province.
Bill 37 provides for a broad definition of essential services encompassing public employees who work in a range of occupations including nurses, hospital support workers, group home workers, home care workers, ambulance dispatchers and paramedics. It mandates that essential services agreements be negotiated prior to any strike action through a process that is heavily weighted in favour of the employer.
Third piece of legislation restricting workers' collective bargaining rights introduced by the Liberal government in less than six months
Bill 37 is the third piece of anti-union legislation passed by the Liberal government since it took office less than six months ago. Only last month, the government passed Bill 30, the Essential Home-support Services (2014) Act, which ended a two-day strike of some 500 home care workers.
In December 2013, the government passed Bill 21, which repealed a section of the Trade Union Act, which allowed unsettled collective agreements to go to first contract arbitration, if negotiations have gone on for more than one year from the date of certification.
NSGEU/NUPGE thanks members and the public for the strong support and for refusing to be silenced
In a message to members and supporters, NSGEU/NUPGE said, "We are deeply saddened with this government’s betrayal of workers, but we are incredibly proud of all health care workers and members for showing up, speaking out, and refusing to be silenced by Stephen McNeil on this oppressive legislation."
"This was not just a workers' struggle," said James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), the national union representing NSGEU members. "You put patient safety on the top of the agenda for legislators and the public. Thank you for using your collective voice to protect and advance the rights of patients in our health care system."
NSGEU/NUPGE members who are employed as nurses by CDHA and who are affected by this legislation will be meeting on April 8 and 10.
The collective agreement for these nurses remains unsettled.
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