A temporary court order has averted a strike of New Brunswick nursing home workers that was set to begin on Sunday.
The order, issued by the Court of Queen’s Bench on Saturday, will stop the approximately 4,100 nursing home workers at 45 of the province’s 46 nursing homes from heading to the picket lines for 10 days.
The only centre exempt from the order is the York Care Centre in Fredericton, N.B. They are a test facility and fall under different legislation than the other care homes.
Patrick Roy, the New Brunswick coordinator for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says the government made a “major, major mistake this weekend” by getting the order.
“It’s going to be very interesting labour relations going forward in nursing homes,” he said at a press conference on Sunday, responding to the court order.
@CupeMaritimes says they never planned to actually walk off the job, they claim the strike was a bargaining tool.—
Megan Yamoah (@MeganYamoah) March 10, 2019
The province’s Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard, says that although she supports the collective bargaining process, the health and safety of nursing home residents is her “primary concern.”
“[The order] provides some peace of mind for residents and families and provides time for the parties to get back to the negotiating table,” said Shephard in a release issued late on Saturday.
The nursing home workers, who are represented by Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) along with the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions (NBCNHU), have been without a contract for 28 months.
Sharon Teare, president of NBCNHU, said at a press conference on Sunday that the temporary stay is “unethical” and prevents their workers from their legal right to strike.
The workers, along with the employers represented by the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes (NBANH), have had trouble finding common ground when it comes to wages and staffing concerns.
The association says they have presented a collective agreement similar to that of hospital workers, ensuring wage parity between the two sectors.
New Brunswick has recently applied for a judicial review of the Labour and Employment Board’s December 2018 decision which found parts of the Essential Services in Nursing Homes Act unconstitutional.
The act declared nursing home workers to be an essential service.
WATCH: New Brunswick unionized nurses vote in favour of strike
Shephard maintains that the government believes nursing home workers should be designated as an essential service.
“This is about the health and safety or residents and not the right of employees to strike. That is why the government took the action it did this week,” Shephard said.
Both sides are set to head back to the bargaining table on Monday at 11 a.m.
With files from Megan Yamoah
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