Tuesday, 20 November 2018
Education featured Labour

Letter: ’Pegging’ unions

Observers of Nova Scotia’s education system will have to add yet another acronym to an already dizzying list. I am talking about so-called “PEG” employees — what the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is euphemistically calling its Provincial Employees Group.

PEG employees have actually become a key part of the provincial government’s “reforms” to the school system. We have witnessed a ballooning number of these positions — all of them non-union.

The unceremonious yanking of 200 or more school psychologists and speech and language pathologists from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union was widely reported. But less well-known are the social workers and new positions in the expanding Schools Plus program who are being shifted in the same direction.

Curiously, a spokesperson for the department was recently reported as saying there is actually no such thing as the Professional Employees Group, and suggested job posting notices may not have been worded correctly. A quick visit to the Halifax Regional Centre for Education’s website, however, suggests otherwise:

“The Halifax Regional Centre for Education employs more than 9,000 full-time, part-time and casual employees within four union groups (NSTU, CUPE, NSGEU, NSUPE) and a non-union group (PEG — Professional Employees Group). To access the collective agreements for any of the unions representing our employees, click here.” 

Add these PEG positions to the 1,000 principals and vice-principals who were legislated out of the teachers’ union, and it becomes increasingly clear that our current government is falling back on a tried and true tactic for undermining the education unions.

While this may be a less sensational way of weakening the unions than, say, imposing wage freezes and concessions that force teachers and other education workers out onto the picket line, it poses no less a threat to their very existence.

John McCracken, Head of St. Margaret’s Bay

 

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