Nova Scotia health care workers gather for strike vote
Unifor is calling for a strong strike vote mandate among health care members in Nova Scotia to send a message to both the employers and the McNeil government.
“This government has interfered with fair collective bargaining from day one through its multitude of laws which have strengthened the hand of the employers by imposing wage freezes and concessions,” said Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director.
The first real movement that the Council of Health Care Unions, which includes union representation from Unifor, the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union (NSGEU), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union (NSNU),has seen since the bargaining process began was when a province wide strike vote was announced said Payne. The Council of Unions have been in bargaining for nearly two years with the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the IWK Children’s hospital.
To discuss the status of negotiations, membership meetings along with a strike vote will be conducted with all eligible members of Local 4600 between April 24-29. CLICK FOR FULL LIST.
The employers have slowed the pace of bargaining significantly over the last two months and the unions believe there is no choice but to seek a strike mandate from members.
“It is extremely important members attend these town hall sessions to cast their ballot in support of their bargaining committee,” said Susan Gill, Unifor National Representative.
In addition to seeking a strike mandate the Council of Unions is also working to negotiated an Essential Services Agreement (ESA) with the employers as required by McNeil’s Bill 37 prior to job action occurring. The unions asked the Labour Board to determine the number of essential service positions after negotiations reached an impasse with the employers. The process for reaching an ESA has been stalled by the employer which continues to drag its feet.
Unifor and the other unions believe a strong strike vote is the only way to conclude a fair collective agreement and to push back on concessions being demanded by the employer.
Dear Unifor Members in the Health Care Bargaining Unit:
The Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions (Unifor, NSGEU, CUPE and NSNU) today requested that the Nova Scotia Labour Board settle the outstanding issues and finalize an Essential Services plan for the IWK. The Labour Board has 30 days to hear submissions from both the Employer and the Council of Unions and reach a conclusion on the remaining issues.
At the end of this process the IWK will have an Essential Services plan.
The Council of Unions, Health Care Bargaining Unit, has worked hard to reach an Essential Services plan that meets the needs of its members as well as ensures the health and safety of patients.
The Council of Unions believes that the remaining issues can not be resolved through negotiations with the Employer and is using the process provided under the Essential Health and Community Services Act to empower the Labour Board to finalize the plan.
The application to the Labour Board is the next logical step and aligns with the Council of Unions decision to hold a strike vote among the 6,500 members of the Health Care Bargaining Unit across Nova Scotia.
Negotiations for a new collective agreement and for essential services plans which are now required by law have been frustrating at best. It is time for us to send a strong message to the Employers and government that we expect them to take collective bargaining and the Council’s proposals seriously and to work with the Council of Unions to get a negotiated deal.
The primary goal of the both the strike vote and sending the essential services plan to the Labour Board is to create enough pressure that the Employers and the government will engage in meaningful negotiations and complete a new collective agreement.
We are still working to complete an Essential Services plan with the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
Strike Vote Update
Unifor strike vote meetings are being coordinated and notice to members with dates and times will be send out in the coming days. If you have any questions you can be in contact with Susan Gill or Jamie Pollock. Their emails are below.
The strike vote is an important next step in the bargaining process to get health care members a new collective agreement. After more than a year of bargaining the Employers have slowed the pace of bargaining significantly over the last two months.
The NSHA and IWK continue to table proposals that would negatively impact members and their families. For example, the Employer wants the ability to move employees to any region of the province at their discretion. This would create instability and uncertainty for thousands of families around the province. This would be unacceptable to Unifor.
After more than a year of bargaining, the Employers recently tabled their sick leave proposal. The Employers are proposing taking control of your health and dental benefits plans so they can unilaterally make changes to your benefits. The Council has proposed that benefits plans cannot be altered without the approval of the Unions.
The Council of Unions, NSHA and IWK have further conciliation dates set for April 10th, 11th, 12th and again on May 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.
For more information contact:
Jamie Pollock (President Unifor 4600) at email@example.com or call 902-578-1564
Susan Gill (Unifor servicing representative) at Susan.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 902-562-3857
Nova Scotia Health Care Workers to take strike vote
After little progress with a conciliator, the Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions is proceeding with a province wide strike vote for health care workers.
The joint union bargaining committee, made up of members from four different unions including Unifor, NSGEU, CUPE, and NSNU, is frustrated with the slow pace of talks for acute care workers, after seven more days at the table with a conciliator. Talks initially began in October of 2016.
The coalition of unions believe it is time to send a clear message to the employers which include the Nova Scotia Health Authority, the IWK Children’s hospital and the Nova Scotia government.
After a year of negotiations, the employers have refused to seriously consider any of the union proposals.
Nova Scotia’s first ever province-wide Health Care Bargaining Unit strike vote will be held for all 6,500 health care workers from Yarmouth to Halifax to Colchester to Cape Breton.
Members of Unifor, NSGEU, CUPE, and NSNU stand united and have agreed to take action in solidarity for all workers seeking fair collective agreements for the four unions, without a collective agreement or wage increase for four years.
Each of the four Unions will conduct individual voteswith details on locations and dates to be announced soon.
Overall the unions share concerns that employers’ continue to propose significant claw backs of benefits for some members. Unifor is especially concerned about an employer proposal that would allow the NSHA to reassign employees anywhere in the province whether the employee wanted to go or not.
The Council of Health Care Unions have set further conciliation dates with the employers for April 10 – 12 and May 2 – 4, 2018.
The McNeil Liberal legislation prohibits health care workers from striking until an essential services agreement is reached and this has not yet been negotiated. The Council of Unions presented the employers with a complete essential services plan earlier this month. The employer driven delay in reaching an essential service agreement has limited the unions leverage at the bargaining table. This is all the more reason why a strike mandate is required by all workers.
Together with a united voice health care workers can move towards reaching a fair new collective agreement.
Progress made in N.S. health care bargaining
The Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions just completed six days of conciliation in January with the employers, the Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Hospital, and another 12 days of bargaining are scheduled for this spring.
Bargaining has produced some steady progress but the employers have also tabled several significant concessions. The employer is seeking concessions which the unions believe directly contradicts Premier Stephen McNeil’s claim that health care workers would not lose benefits as a result of amalgamation.
The employer’s proposals have not been accepted by the Council and are just the latest in the Liberal government’s attack on workers after McNeil used legislation to freeze wages and retirement benefits, which leave most Nova Scotia health care workers among the lowest paid in the country.
Progress has been gained however as the parties have reached a tentative agreement on 22 of 46 complete articles in the NSHA agreement and 24 of 46 articles in the IWK agreement.
Since both the Council and the employers based all proposals on the current NSGEU local 42 collective agreement, the council estimates it is nearly 70 per cent of the way towards reaching a tentative agreement for IWK and NASHA. However, the most difficult and contentious issues such as: benefits, wages, job security, retirement allowance, job posting, hours of work, sick leave and re-assignment remain outstanding.
This complex set of negotiations has proven to be a long and challenging process but the Council is working collectively to make sure progress continues in the best interest of all members.
Bargaining will continue on February 26, 27, March 19, 20, 21, April 10, 11, 12, May 2, 3, 4. Other dates may be added if required.
In conjunction with bargaining, the Council also continues to work toward negotiating an essential services agreement (ESA) which would cover all 6,500 health care bargaining unit members.
Although the employers’ essential services negotiators walked away from talks last summer, there was agreement to return to the table on March 6. Negotiating an ESA is now a requirement for the union as Bill 37, a new Liberal legislation, requires it to be in place before a strike or job action can happen.
The committees representing administrative professionals, support and nursing are preparing to start their bargaining once an agreement is reached in health care.
For more information, please contact Unifor bargaining committee members:
Susan Gill, National Representative email@example.com
Limited progress in conciliation for Nova Scotia Health Care
The Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions, and the employers, (NSHA and IWK) have completed three days of conciliation and plan to meet again in January for another five days. The three days of meetings in November provided good discussion and some progress. However, a lot of work remains.
To date the parties have held 27 bargaining sessions to conduct a very complex set of negotiations that require bringing together collective agreements from all four unions (Unifor, NSGEU, CUPE, and NSNU) in the acute care and community care sectors.
The sector bargaining was imposed upon the unions when the provincial Liberal government created a single provincial health authority.
Despite some progress in negotiations, a number of very significant items remain outstanding including: job posting, job security, sick leave, group benefits, retiree benefits, vacation scheduling, leaves, overtime, hours of work and more.
This continues to be a challenging bargaining process but the Council is working well together to make sure progress continues on behalf of members.
It is important to note that the task was made much more difficult when the Nova Scotia Liberal government enacted legislation freezing the retirement allowance of union members and imposing wage restraint including two years with a zero per cent increase.
Coinciding with bargaining, the Council continues to work toward negotiating an essential services agreement (ESA) with the employers. The ESA is being negotiated for the first time and was required by another Liberal Government piece of legislation. The Liberal legislation prohibits the unions from conducting a strike until an essential services agreement is reached, which has severely limited the Council’s leverage at the bargaining table. Once established the ESA will determine which positions are deemed a part of an essential service to continue working in the event of a labour disruption, strike or lock-out.
The ESA will cover all 6,500 health care workers across the province, making it a very complex task. Adding to the complications of negotiating an ESA, the Employers’ essential services negotiators walked away from the table in the summer and have refused to come back.
Once the essential services negotiations are complete in the coming months, the Council expects to make more progress in bargaining new collective agreements.
The Health Care Council of Unions bargaining committee is made up of six members from NSGEU, three from CUPE and one from Unifor. The Nova Scotia Nurses Union (NSNU) is also part of the Health Care Council. Health Care Bargaining Council is the lead table in this round of healthcare negotiations. The committee representing administrative professionals, support and nursing are preparing to start their bargaining once an agreement is reached in health care.
For more information please contact Unifor bargaining committee members:
Susan Gill, National Representative firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamie Pollock, President Local 4600 email@example.com
Conciliation begins this week
Conciliation begins November 9 with the Nova Scotia Council of Healthcare Unions, which is trying to reach a fair collective agreement for hundreds of workers in employed by the Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK. The council is made up of bargaining committee members from Unifor, NSGEU, CUPE and NSNU.
The Department of Labour and Advanced Education has appointed Christina Browning to act as conciliator and meetings are scheduled for November 9, 10, and 16.
Talks broke down with the employers in October with Unifor Local 4600 along with NSGEU, CUPE and NSNU. It is expected conciliation will take more than these three meeting dates due to the complexity of the task and given that the unions and the employer are significantly apart but the process is continuing to move forward.
The Council of Union negotiators continues to try and reach an essential services agreement so the Council may be in a position to begin job action, but the Employers’ essential services negotiators walked away from the table in the summer.
The Council negotiators are working to finalize their essential services proposal in the hopes of re-starting discussions in the coming weeks.
This round of bargaining has been a long and at times frustrating process for health care members. The McNeil Liberals have used their majority government unlike any other provincial government in Canada to invoke multiple pieces of anti-union legislation. Employer negotiators still refuse to table their proposed changes to sick leave benefits for health care workers.
In spite of these barriers the Bargaining Committee has fought hard during these negotiations to protect key benefits that members have negotiated over the past four decades. For example, Employer negotiators continue to make clear they want complete control of health and dental benefits plans. If the Council of Healthcare Unions were to give up this control, the Employers could make unilateral changes to benefits without the agreement of the unions.
For more information, please contact:
Susan Gill National Representative firstname.lastname@example.org (902) 562-3857
Jamie Pollock President Local 4600 email@example.com