Two hours after walking off job, hospital workers reach deal with N.S. govt

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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TRURO, N.S. - The Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Nova Scotia government reached a tentative contract deal Monday morning, bringing a swift end to a strike by more than 4,000 rural health care workers.

Picket lines went up at 6 a.m. after all-night negotiations in Truro failed to produce a deal.

Less than two hours later, both sides had reached a tentative agreement and picket lines were coming down.

"We're obviously very, very pleased," John McCracken, a spokesman for the union, said shortly after the deal was announced.

Details of the agreement were not released, but the union was recommending its acceptance.

"We achieved our major objectives," said McCracken.

In recent weeks, the uncertainty surrounding the negotiations forced administrators at 33 health care facilities outside the Halifax region to implement contingency plans.

They included reducing services and closing some emergency rooms at smaller hospitals as well as cancelling some elective surgeries.

The Capital District Health Authority - Nova Scotia's largest - was also hit by the ripple effect of a potential strike, despite not being involved in the labour dispute.

Health officials at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax called off about 32 surgeries in anticipation of receiving patients diverted from areas hit by a strike.

Deputy premier Frank Corbett said he was pleased with the outcome.

"We would have hoped obviously that it was done quicker, nonetheless, they did reach a deal," he said from his home in New Waterford, N.S.

"Very little interruptions, so we're happy with that."

The workers are employed in 33 hospitals outside the capital region.

The government said district health authorities would begin immediately re-establishing services that had been scaled back.

The provincial government and CUPE also reached a last-minute deal for some 3,000 rural school support workers on Sunday.

Heading into the weekend, the union had been looking for a three-year deal with a 2.9 per cent wage hike each year.

The province had offered a four-year contract with a 2.9 per cent wage increase in the first two years and a one per cent increase for each of the remaining two years.

Organizations: Canadian Union of Public Employees, Capital District Health Authority, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre

Geographic location: TRURO, Nova Scotia, Halifax New Waterford

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Recent comments

  • bruce
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    they wanted what they, got the last 10 years. EQUALITY no more no less. Exactly what they deserve. Good for them.

  • Agirl
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Troy,, I also paid $20,000 in student loans plus 2 years of training to have my job that pays me more then 90% of amherst residents.

  • guy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Its how any supply and demand product or business works.
    Should these workers just go to work and settle for less out of the kindness of their hearts? NO, thats why the went to school to get a good job, because they are in demand, and if your service or product is a commodity or in demand, you can hold out for more money. Thats what working is all about, MAKING MONEY. I hope these workers got everything they asked for. And as for other non union workers making less, if you want more, go back to school. I know its not an option for everyone, but thats life. If you provide an in demand service or product you get paid more. its how the world works. This is not a communist country.

  • Blind
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Its sad to read the negative comments.
    Without unions we all could kiss labour legislation good-bye and we all would be working in dangerous environments with hardly a pay check to speak of.
    So many people have forgotten what unions have done for non- unionized workers.

  • Fuzzy Bear
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I'd really like to give my opinions on unions but that should be a topic of another article. Maybe the ADN will write something on the topic someday.
    My main comments here is that both NEGOTIATING sides in this dispute should be totally ashamed of themselves. First of all the union for threatening and then finally going on strike. Equally to blame are the government NEGOTIATORS for not making an acceptable offer to the union before the deadline.
    How in the He** can these two sides come to an amicable agreement less than two hours after the strike commenced unless one of them had the authority in the first place to satisfy the others demands. Not settling this health care strike before the deadline put a lot of unnecessary stress on a lot of people.
    And to make it worse both sides are now claiming they are very happy with the negotiated results. Boy does that ever smell like a load of bull.

  • Greg
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Well Said, Troy! Agirl, many, many, MANY!!!! people spend money for education and training, and I'm sure most of the ones around here fall into the 90% that Troy referred to. Your education, like mine, are to help prepare you for a career ... not to entitle you to a certain level of income! For that you need a union to constantly remind you that, even though you are employed in your chosen field, and were offered a good wage when you got your job (I mean it must have been pretty good because you accepted the job), that over time your employer has been mistreating you and that you should have more and more and more money!

  • Just a thought
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I don't like unions holding the masses hostage, but on the whole issue of equal pay for rural workers, it does occur to me that if they received the same pay it would be one less reason for healthcare professionals not to take jobs in the rural areas that are currently the hardest hit by shortages of workers filling these positions.

  • Media Boy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Let's see if the NDP government has the fortitude to do what previous Liberal and Conservative governments failed to -- pass legislation banning strikes in essential services.

  • Troy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Great,now they can work for 3 more years at a rate of pay that 90% of Amherst residents aren't making,,and then they can strike again in 2013 and hold peoples health ransom while they strike,,and they will get their raises in 2013...might as well give them $50 bucks an hour now and get it over with

  • Troy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Well (A girl ) it was a great investment that $20,000,, because you are guarenteed to get everything you want from now til retirement from that job, and if you don't ,,Hey, just walk out on strike and leave all the helpless patients without care until you get what you want....but as long as you can sleep well at night ,,its all good.

  • here we go again
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I`m not in the union and I work very hard for my money but we dont get increase and we live from paycheck to paycheck not like workers at the hospital or school... so like Troy said in the year 2013 they will stike again for more money... when will they give some to the less poor people who work hard at min. wage

  • Another 2 Cents
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Thanks Robert! Did you read my post?

    I recognized that it goes both ways, everyone is held hostage in a situation like this, but none no more than if the government were to pass a law preventing workers from striking as outdated from NS would have it.

    What type of dictatorship / socialist society would we have then? Perhaps outdated from NS would prefer to live in a more archahic time and not be able to fight for what one deserves! Outdated is right!

  • Another 2 Cents
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Greg, with a certain level of training / education, people should expect and be entitled to a certain level of income within their chosen career.

    Just like people who have no training / education / skills should be expected to get a certain level of income.

    I am surprised that Troy knows exactly what Amherst residents receive too!

    There are good things about unions and not so good things, but overall they have improved the conditions for ALL workers across this province and country.

    We have safe working environments, fair wages and benefits that should keep pace with inflation and increased taxes and everything else people need to consider.

    I worked without a union before in a different career choice and received the same pay that i get now in a union. Mind you different industry, so we can't compare apples and oranges here.

    The right to strike is a right that all workers should have, perhaps government should protect that right for ALL workers in the province, including non-unionized workers who feel they deserve to be treated fairly.

    Do you think unions really want to strike?

    It is the last resort to have thier voices heard. And it is to bad that the public is affected when it comes down to government services. Without this right, they would be held hostage by government. That is the other side of the fence Troy when you put it that the workers hold the public hostage!

    Some people think it is all about money, it is a part of it, but so is equality and equity, try looking them up some time.

    And I do sleep well at night. I work hard for it, I earn it and I deserve it.

  • Robert
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Another 2 Cents from Amherst, NS writes: Without this right, they would be held hostage by government.

    And with this right we are held hostage by the unions...

  • Outdated
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Yes you would think that the employers, in this case the province, had the union employees working in chains for a dollar a day. Thanks for using us as pawns again unions to get yet again a higher wage while you do nothing to improve your job performance. I'll bet the wait times at the ER, or wait times for surgery, etc... will be no shorter now that you got more money, benefits, etc.. on top of what you already had. The truth is, the unions getting what they want or nearly getting what they want are going to do nothing to improve our healthcare system, our service industry, or the economy. Unions are outdated and just a part of the larger systemic problems in our society.

  • Maintanance Worker
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I'm Here to tell ya ,it's not a walk in the part to have to put up with some of the bull crap the supervisors put you through.........same ole song and dance ......too bad they are all for themselves . Would not go back for 100% increase in pay !!! Good luck to you all !!

  • outdated
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    no right to strike for essential services period.