HALIFAX, Nov. 18, 2014 /CNW/ - Unifor, as a committed health care union, is extremely disappointed a mediated settlement among the four Nova Scotia health care unions and the acute care employers could not be reached.
"Unifor is deeply committed to building and maintaining a strong voice for the public health care workers that impact our lives in very profound ways," said Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Director. "We find ourselves in a situation created by a government bent on not only undermining unions, but also the stability and quality of the public health care system on which Nova Scotians rely."
Despite the best efforts of a mutually selected third party, Mr. James Dorsey, Q.C., the four unions and the acute care sector employers were unable to reach a solution to the difficulties created by Bill 1, which was introduced by the Liberal government on October 3 to amalgamate the province's health district authorities and strip employees of their chosen unions.
Prior to the beginning of mediation talks on October 17, Unifor, with other health care unions, led the charge to deliver a plan that would result in the least disruption possible; a plan to streamline bargaining in health care and to reduce the number of collective agreements in the acute care sector from 49 to four. The plan was to implement multi-union bargaining councils and it was inspired by the system that has been used in British Columbia successfully for many years. The bargaining councils would see each union continue to represent its own members and, in council with the other unions, bargain the four collective agreements the government demanded.
"We went into mediation with this as our goal. We worked hard to get there, and we still believe that this is the best approach, the fairest approach, the solution that respects workers' rights and protects a stable public health care system, on which the people of Nova Scotia depend," said Payne.
Despite mediation being over, Unifor strongly believes that bargaining councils are the best solution for its members and will ensure the continued provision of superior health care in Nova Scotia.
During the next step of arbitration, which starts today, each union will be told which category of workers in the acute care sector they will represent: nursing, non-nursing front-line health care workers, clerical and administrative workers.
"Clearly, the intent of the Liberal government's Bill 1 has been to pit union against union in a fight for membership," said Payne. "Our proposal aimed to create a streamlined process that the government wanted without the upheaval and chaos that we are now going to see."
Mr. Dorsey now moves from being a mediator to being an arbitrator and, as such, Bill 1 requires that he divide all acute health care workers into the four categories of workers with one union for each group. He must follow the requirements of the legislation as they are set out.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including nearly 4,000 in health care in Nova Scotia. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. Unifor works to protect its members and play a leadership role in building thriving, safe workplaces and a strong economy so all workers in Canada have a good job, a decent standard of living and greater equality.
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