Healthcare Labour Media release

Media release: Conciliation fails, health care strike vote scheduled

After hailing health care workers as “heroes” for the past 16 months, the Rankin government refuses to negotiate a deal that will lift many of these workers from being amongst the lowest paid in the country. Now, these same health care workers may be forced to take strike action to achieve a fair collective agreement.

“It is unconscionable that these health care ‘heroes’ can suddenly go to ‘zeroes’ at the bargaining table,” said NSGEU President MacLean. “These workers certainly deserve to be shown more respect from their employer and government. Instead, this government offered them less than they gave other public sector workers in the last two years.”

The Health Care Council of Unions (NSGEU, Unifor and CUPE), collectively represent approximately 7,500 health care workers working in a wide variety of roles at Nova Scotia Health (NSH) throughout the province and the IWK.

Members in this bargaining unit include lab technicians who have tirelessly processed up to 16,000 COVID tests per day; mental health workers who have supported countless Nova Scotians through this incredibly stressful time; and a wide variety of other frontline positions, such as Care Team Assistants, Porters, and Critical Care Paramedics, who worked face-to-face with members of the public throughout all three waves of the pandemic.

Wages for many health care workers have fallen below where they should be in comparison to other provinces. This is in large part due to seven years of austerity by the Provincial government.

These types of wage disparities will only make health shortages worse in Nova Scotia.

The Council wrote to Premier Iain Rankin on June 22nd, formally requesting that any unresolved issues, such as wages, be referred to an arbitrator so workers would not be put in a position of having to take strike action to reach an agreement. The Premier denied that request.

“It is shameful that the Rankin government has chosen to follow the same path as his predecessor, Stephen McNeil, and continue to pick fights with the very workers who have stepped up to protect us all,” said Les Duff, Acting President of CUPE Local 8920.

The Council will be holding a strike vote with its members starting next week. We expect to have the results of that strike vote on July 9th, which could put health care workers in a legal strike position as early as the third week of July.