September 6, 2017 11:34 am
Updated: September 6, 2017 6:02 pm

Nova Scotia unions to seek status in appeal court case over imposed wage package

WATCH: Seven labour organizations in Nova Scotia say they want to be added as participants in a legal fight with the province over wage restraints for 75,000 public servants. As Marieke Walsh reports, the unions are warning of more fallout for the government.

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Seven labour organizations in Nova Scotia say they want to be added as participants in a legal fight with the province over wage restraints for 75,000 public servants.

The union groups, including the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, the provincial government employees union and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, said today they will apply to be added as parties to the case at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

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The move comes less than a month after the province’s Liberal government referred the wage portion of the Public Services Sustainability Act – known as Bill 148 – to the appeal court for constitutional review.

READ MORE: NSGEU gives notice of charter challenge to Bill 148

But, the unions say they were not included as parties to the proceeding and now have to ask to be allowed to participate to ensure employees’ interests are represented.

The act sets a wage pattern of three per cent over four years that will allow employers to offer increases of one per cent in the third year of the contract, followed by 1.5 per cent in the fourth year and 0.5 per cent on the final day of the package.

The act also freezes a retirement allowance retroactive to April 1, 2015.

WATCH: N.S. Liberals leave out contentious portion of Bill 148 in request for constitutional review

Nova Scotia Federation of Labour president Danny Cavanagh said there is a misconception that public sector workers have “gold-plated pensions” and “extreme wages.”

“Many members that we represent don’t have a pension and the ones that do, they are not $100,000 pensions,” he said. “Everyone deserves to have a pension and retire with dignity.”

Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, said the Liberal government’s treatment of nurses could impact the health care system.

“Our health-care system relies on a lot of people agreeing to work overtime shifts,” she said. “They don’t have to resign, they just have to say I’m not coming in tonight (to work overtime).”

Hazelton said the provincial health-care system relies on workers taking on extra shifts and that an end to overtime could lead to labour shortages and the temporary closure of hospital units.

 

 

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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