Halifax, N.S. – Trade unionists from across Nova Scotia and beyond came together this week to brainstorm ways to protect workers’ rights, address intimate partner and workplace violence and ease the stress on members who work in many sectors such as health care, long term care, home care, education and the civil service both provincially and federally.
The 50th Convention of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour took place at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel and wrapped up yesterday with plans to educate and mobilize its 70,000 plus members on a wide range of issues over the next two years. Danny Cavanagh was acclaimed as president of the organization for a third term, with Jason MacLean returned as first vice-president.
Delegates discussed at length how the crisis in health care was harming workers and patients and resolved to lobby for changes to ease the unbearable stress and burnout many members are experiencing. They heard from educational assistants, teachers and other support workers within the public education system who are being assaulted in the classroom by children who have no mental health supports and that we lobby to have mental health included as a critical component of a safe workplace.
Delegates and their unions vowed to take action on social issues like clean water on first nations reserves, the environment and child poverty. They promised to vigorously oppose any anti-worker legislation that threatens free collective bargaining and work to rid all workplaces of sexual harassment and assault. They renewed their commitment to fight for a $15 minimum wage and Universal Pharmacare, and to oppose the privatization of public services. Many unions and delegates spook out against P3 highway, hospitals and the contracting out in the public sector. Cavanagh says the Federation will be intensifying its lobbying efforts for progressive changes to Labour legislation in Nova Scotia, which has not seen a comprehensive review since 1972.
“The Federation will also convene a meeting of labour leaders to discuss what further actions they will take as a collective when Premier McNeil government again decides to impose a law on workers that breaks a law. Union members didn’t create the economic situation the province is in, we are here because of bad decisions that governments have made. We need to make sure our governments make better decisions and invest in workers, not make laws to break laws so they can get their way. The unions in the province has seen some bad legislation imposed on them in the past and their charter rights to collective bargaining taken away. The unions affected by those bills have stood their ground in defending their members on those controversial bills and are headed to court with legal action. The question now is, what else should we do collectively to make sure government invests in its work force, not create more chaos. Workers on many fronts in many sectors are burnt-out, over-worked, face more violence and getting hurt and that needs to be addressed. As many delegates said, enough is enough,” concludes Cavanagh.