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2014 a rough year for Nova Scotia workers

by Robert Devet

Major cuts at Canada Post and the implementation of community mail boxes had not just postal workers upset. Rallies and town hall meetings, like this one in Dartmouth in January, were held throughout the year.  Photo Robert Devet
In June Canada Post announced that 36,000 homes in Dartmouth and Halifax will lose door-to-door mail delivery in 2015.  This is on top of the 10,000 or so homes in Bedford and Sackville that lost delivery this fall. Mayor Savage and Halifax Council have refused to speak out against the cut backs. Photo Robert Devet
Home support workers visit patients at their homes, where they provide similar care as offered by their hospital counterparts, but for a lot less money. That's why roughly 1200 home care workers in 13 NSGEU locals were ready to go on strike in early 2014. Photo Robert Devet
But home support workers never had a chance. Angry workers rallied outside Province House while inside the liberal majority put in place essential services legislation that effectively removed the right to strike.  Even light housekeeping and doing the laundry were deemed essential. Photo Robert Devet
After the home support workers it was the nurses' turn. In April, nurses, all members of the NSGEU employed by Capital Health, were asking that mandatory nurse-to-patient ratios be phased in. Working understaffed, they felt, put patients' health and even lives at risk. When negotiations proved futile 2300 nurses walked off the job, only to be promptly legislated back by the provincial government.
Bill 37 did not just affect the Capital Health nurses. The legislation effectively removed the right to strike from another 40,000 unionized health care and Community Services workers province-wide. The legislation affects hospital staff province-wide, people who work in group homes, ambulance dispatchers, and many more. Photo Robert Devet
n October yet more angry union rallies at Province House. The Liberal government introduced Bill 1, legislation that merges the nine district health authorities in the province into two, and reduces the number of collective agreements with health-care units to just four, based on classification.   Not only will the new legislation move workers from one union to another without their input, it will also force workers to accept collective agreements that may well be inferior to their current ones.
The four health-care unions had hoped that the government would accept their detailed proposal to keep current membership intact and allow unions to bargain collective agreements together. A similar approach using so-called bargaining associations functions well in British Columbia.  Failing bargaining associations, the NSGEU would have liked the ability to at least vote for the union they wish to represent them.  Photo Robert Devet
n November unionized Chronicle Herald newsroom staff and supporters staged a brief rally to protest the announced layoffs of as many as 20 newsroom workers.   Many Herald readers told Herald management that its plans were unacceptable. In the end 13 unionized Chronicle Herald staff and two managers walked away from the Herald newsroom with either early retirement or buy-out packages.Photo Robert Devet
About 50 people braved a steady rain in early June and gathered on the Grand Parade in downtown Halifax to voice their concerns about a new federal prostitution bill.  The legislation claims to target "johns" and "pimps", but sex workers say that it makes things worse for them.  Photo Robert Devet
On Labour Day 500 union members and their friends gathered at Victoria Park and marched to the Commons. Always a good time not just to reflect, but to sing some songs and have a lot of fun.  Photo Simon Devet
Coburg Coffee became the third coffee shop in Halifax to vote on unionization. Just Us! Coffee Roasters Cooperative on Spring Garden Road and Second Cup on Quinpool both unionized in 2013. The workers are still waiting for labour board hearings that will determine the outcome of the vote. Photo Stephanie Taylor

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) –  What a year....

Home support workers, nurses and other health care workers saw their right to strike removed by the provincial Liberal government.

Canada Post announced cutbacks and the end of door-to-door delivery. Federal legislation made life for sex workers more dangerous.

Coburg Coffee baristas voted on unionization. There was another round of layoffs at the Chronicle Herald.

Oh yes, and Bill 1.  Not only will that legislation move workers from one union to another without their input, it will also force workers to accept collective agreements that may well be inferior to their current ones.

Those are just some of the labour issues we covered in 2014.

Many of the stories have not yet concluded. Bill 1 for instance is still in arbitration, with an announcement expected in mid-January. The baristas are still waiting for a labour board decision.

2015 promises to be every bit as turbulent as 2014. The provincial Liberal government hints at privatization and more austerity. Municipal administrators say much the same.

Meanwhile, the workers' voice is often not heard in mainstream reporting. That's the voice we intend to continue to bring to the fore as events unfold in 2015.

 

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

 

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Topics: Labour
196 words

Comments

Yes, Nova scotia workers

Yes, Nova scotia workers seems unlucky for 2014. i hope 2015 will gonna open new ray of hope for them.

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