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‘We expect it’ll be the same as last time’: labour activists say they want to work with Stephen McNeil

Click to play video: '‘We expect it’ll be the same as last time’: labour activists say they want to work with Stephen McNeil' ‘We expect it’ll be the same as last time’: labour activists say they want to work with Stephen McNeil
With the Liberals at the helm of another majority government, concerns over labour relations in Nova Scotia continue – Jun 1, 2017

The dust is just settling from this week’s provincial election where Premier Stephen McNeil was handed a second mandate.

With the Liberals at the helm of another majority government, concerns over labour relations in the province continue.

“We expect it’ll be the same as last time,” said said Danny Cavanagh, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour.

“There’ll be three years of tighten your belt, wanna throw union workers under the bus and blame them for the economy and everything else.”

READ: ‘Enough is enough’: labour activists fed up with NS government

Cavanagh said he expects the next few years won’t be a “smooth ride” and expects the Liberals to impose Bill 148 – which would impose a contract on public sector workers in the province.

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Cavanagh said the door is always open and that he wants to work with McNeil.

“We can’t go to the bargaining table, I don’t think, with a gun to our head. They need to clear the table off, lets start from zero and see where we end up,” he told Global News.

READ: NSGEU says negotiations with province at standstill, files for conciliation

There has been widespread labour unrest under the McNeil government. When asked about the future of contract negotiations Wednesday, McNeil told reporters that a lot has been done over the last three-and-a-half years in Nova Scotia.

“We’re going to continue to make sure that we live within our means,” McNeil said.

“We have always said that and you know, that’s what we’re going to continue to do to make sure that this province lives within our means.”

READ MORE: NS passes Essential Services Act, forcing hundreds back to work

NSGEU president Jason MacLean said he hopes that he can have “more talks that are leading to positive outcomes” with the premier.

So far, MacLean said McNeil has had an agenda and looks forward to seeing if he will deviate from it.

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“There’s always hope that it’ll change but we’re just going to stay the course and keep moving on and try to get deals,” MacLean said.

At this time, only a few of the NSGEU’s contracts have been decided, while more than 90 per cent remain open.

Last month, the union filed for arbitration on behalf of the provincial civil service.

READ MORE: NSGEU to ask for binding arbitration in negotiations with Nova Scotia

MacLean hopes to sit down with McNeil soon to see if they can look at things in a different light.

“To his own admissions, he says he’s heard Nova Scotians so it’s going to be interesting having a conversation with him because I do believe they’re going to be positive,” MacLean said.

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