Thousands of health care administrative workers in Nova Scotia are eyeing a strike three years after their contract expired.
The unions representing them say wages remain the major sticking point, but they’re open to returning to the bargaining table. The president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) says these staff members deserve more.
“The premier has been focusing on health care,” says Sandra Mullen. “Certainly, nurses, doctors, all of those contracts have been signed with promises to keep those wages where they need to be within Atlantic Canada.”
She says the wages of admin staff haven’t kept pace with inflation as some make as low as $18 per hour and are now taking on second jobs to help make ends meet.
The NSGEU represents nearly 3,800 of the more than 5,000 administration workers in Nova Scotia’s hospitals and community care settings. The remainder are covered by CUPE and Unifor.
“They keep that operation [health care] running. They schedule appointments, they enter information that the doctors need, they do a multitude of things,” says Mullen.
The Essential Health and Community Services Act requires employers and unions to establish an essential services agreement before a strike or lockout can happen.
“I won’t allow Nova Scotians to go without access to essential services,” says Premier Tim Houston. “Particularly, I will not allow Nova Scotians to go without access to health care because of a labour disruption. It will not happen.”
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