January 19, 2017 7:43 pm
Updated: January 20, 2017 12:49 am

NS Health Care Bargaining Council files labour complaint against NSHA, IWK

Nova Scotia's health care unions have filed a complaint with the province's labour board.

Global Halifax/Alexa MacLean
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The Health Care Bargaining Council (HCBC) has filed a labour complaint against the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and the IWK.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia to work with unions to determine health worker representation

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Arguing that employers won’t table proposals for crucial benefits in the bargaining between the Nova Scotia Council of Health Care Unions and the NSHA and IWK, the HCBC filed the complaint Thursday with the Labour Board.

“The three key pieces of information that we are asking from the employer is that of their proposal on sick leave, health benefits and job evaluation, and the Council feels that it’s highly unusual that this information has not been provided during the negotiation process,” said Sandra Mullen, acting president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU), in an interview.

The statement, quoted in the HCBC release, said the NSHA and IWK are “in breach of their duty” under a section of the Trade Union Act.

“By refusing to table their bargaining proposals, they (the employers) are failing to make every reasonable effort to conclude a collective agreement,” the statement reads.

The statement goes on to say the collective bargaining process is “a unique and challenging round” because it was “imposed by legislation.” The bargaining team, which is comprised of members from the NSGEU, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Unifor and the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, was formed in 2015.

“They must draft a single collective agreement to replace five agreements containing terms that, in many instances, are distinctly different.”

Bargaining could continue, the release reads, if the three proposals for benefits were tabled.

The council is asking the board to order the employers to table a “comprehensive proposal.”

The IWK released a statement Thursday saying initial proposals were exchanged in October 2016, but the Healthcare Council declined three sets of bargaining dates for November, December and January.

“[We] have been eager to bargain with the Healthcare Council to establish new collective agreements but we are not in agreement with the Council on how to proceed with bargaining these complex new agreements,” the IWK statement reads.

The IWK says it looks forward to going to the Labour Board “in the hopes that we can resolve our issues.”

The unions have been without contracts since 2014.

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