By Emma Davie
Another strike may cripple the city of Halifax next month.
Nearly 91 per cent of Local 42 members voted in favour of job action, as the ballot counts confirmed on March 19.
Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) Local 42 consists of over 3000 health-care professionals who work for the Capital District Health Authority. There are 165 different classifications within the union, including everything from physiotherapists, lab technicians, social workers and emergency room paramedics.
Out of the 2936 votes that were cast, 2663 health-care workers voted in favour of a strike.
President Joan Jessome said that this is the percentage the union has seen in at least a decade.
“That’s 91 per cent, and significant. The employers should be very concerned that 2663 of their employees are contemplating job action if they don’t get a decent agreement,” said Jessome.
The union had met with Capital Health on several occasions in February before talks broke off.
“The employer tabled a three year deal with … a one per cent increase in each of three years, and they tabled a whole bunch of concessions – so they wanted to take away stuff that we’ve already had in previous rounds of bargaining,” Jessome said. “So, talks didn’t go well.”
After that, the union filed for conciliation, which led to the strike mandate.
If the union were to strike, emergency services would still be provided to those who required it but not as many staff would be present.
“We have emergency services in place, so it is our intention to provide those, but it will not be business as usual … A strike does disrupt services. That’s the strength of a strike. It’s also what people see to be an inconvenience of a strike. It’s what strikes do,” said Jessome.
The two parties will return to the table in the first week of April for the conciliation process.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to reach an agreement. If we do, then we avert a strike,” Jessome said. “If we don’t, then we get into a countdown to a strike.”
She believes that if all of the current timelines are met, and no agreement is made, Local 42 could strike as early as April 24.
|Local 42 FINALJoan Jessome discusses the reasons behind the possible strike and the ballot results.|