Strikes looming in N.S. schools, hospitals; wage parity major issue

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - Two large strikes are looming in Nova Scotia that could take their toll on hospital care and the education of children.
About 4,100 support staff in hospitals in eight health authorities across the province are poised to strike on or after Monday.
Close on their heels are 3,700 school support staff who have been in a legal strike position since December and will set a strike date Wednesday.
Wayne Thomas, a Canadian Union of Public Employees co-ordinator for the hospital employees, said it makes sense for both groups to go on strike at the same time.
"It would be foolish for the two sectors to operate independently," he said Monday. "(Our) issues are essentially the same."
CUPE is negotiating on behalf of school and hospital employees who are not employed by the Halifax regional school board or the Capital District Health Authority.
Thomas said "the watershed issue" is maintaining wage parity between hospital employees in Halifax and the rest of the province.
"That pattern has been in place for 10 years," he said.
On Nov. 1 of each year, Capital employees got their raises, and raises for workers in the same classification in other parts of the province were matched on the following April 1.
At issue is that on Nov. 1, 2008, Halifax-area employees received a 2.9 per cent wage hike. The government has since offered provincial employees a one per cent hike for 2008 and 2009.
Specialist categories such as lab and X-ray technicians, pharmacists and psychologists also received a 2.1 per cent hike, which the province is not offering to match for employees outside of Halifax.
Taylor said doing away with wage parity would reverberate throughout the health system.
"Within health care, wage parity is so established that it even transcends acute care and flows over into long-term care and home support," he said. "If they're funded by health, the principle is that they're paid the same."
School support staff, including bus drivers, teacher's aides and janitors, are also looking for wage parity with their Halifax counterparts.
So far, the province has offered a four-year contract with 2.9 per cent hikes in years one and two and one per cent for each of the remaining two years.
Employees want a three-year contract with 2.9 per cent increases each year. Their contract expired on March 31, 2007.
Peter McLaughlin of the Education Department said Monday that school districts are preparing for a potential walkout while still hoping for a resolution.
"If school workers strike, then the boards will keep schools open as long as they can," he said.
Danny Cavanagh, CUPE's provincial president, said the union also hopes negotiations will resume and succeed before school or hospital workers walk off the job.
But he said the union is ready if employees end up on the picket line.
"We're prepared to take strike action if necessary, although nobody wants it to come to that," he said. "But people need to understand that this is a serious situation."

Organizations: Canadian Union of Public Employees, Capital District Health Authority, Education Department

Geographic location: HALIFAX, N.S., Nova Scotia

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  • moi
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    seriously . wow another elementary school tactic. well she gets more then me and he gets more then me. time to grow up. its always about money count yourself lucky you have a job period