If they give a strike mandate, NSGEU/NUPGE President Jason MacLean says his members at the IWK Health Centre could take job action as soon as next month.
Ottawa (18 April 2018) — As reported by CBC news, health care workers across Nova Scotia begin voting this week on a strike mandate, which means hundreds of staff who deal with patients at the IWK Health Centre, other than doctors and nurses, could walk off the job as early as next month.
This includes lab techs, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, child life workers and social workers.
IWK staff other than doctors and nurses could take job action as soon as next month
Legislation passed by the Nova Scotia Liberal government prevents health care workers from taking job action until essential services agreements are reached that establish which employees and how many must remain at work during a strike. Recently, an essential services agreement was reached for the IWK Health Centre, with a few minor issues remaining to be settled by the Nova Scotia Labour Board by the end of this month. The IWK Health Centre is the Atlantic region's largest children's hospital.
This means that by early May, 889 NSGEU/NUPGE workers at IWK could be on strike.
NSGEU/NUPGE President Jason MacLean said the 2 sides have agreed that 35 per cent of employees must work during a strike.
Voting from April 23 to 27
NSGEU/NUPGE members who work for either the IWK or the Nova Scotia Health Authority will vote on a strike mandate electronically from April 23–27. Health care workers at the IWK and Nova Scotia Health Authority have been without a contract for 4 years. The main obstacles to progress toward an agreement include changes to sick benefits, the power of management to move employees from one location to another, and scheduling.
MacLean expects that getting the essential services agreement with the IWK will set a precedent for doing the same with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. While they aren't identical, there are enough similarities for MacLean to believe it will give them another case to take to the Labour Board.
It's time to do some real bargaining
MacLean said the union wants a negotiated settlement. There are 3 more conciliation dates scheduled for May 2–4, but MacLean said the NSGEU/NUPGE will reject any offer for additional days of bargaining. "What I'm saying to them is, 'No, we're not putting more dates. You come and do some real bargaining. You haven't been doing it for the last year and a half.' It's time to put finality to a lot of the clauses that are outstanding."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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