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Bill 1 passes, solidarity restored

by Robert Devet

Photo Robert Devet
Photo Robert Devet
Photo Robert Devet

(K'JIPUKTUK) HALIFAX - While inside Bill 1 was inching forward to becoming law, protests against the legislation continued on the streets around Province House.

Members of all four health care unions stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the Legislature and made sure that the liberals inside got the message loud and clear: (Premier) Stephen McNeil has got to go.

On Hollis Street this morning it certainly did not feel like the health care unions are divided.

Indeed, it seems that whatever cracks appeared in the united front against the legislation yesterday are being patched up.

“We still believe our position is the right one, but there is an onus on us as leaders to reconcile our differences and make sure that we make the best of a horrific piece of legislation,” Joan Jessome, president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU), told the Halifax Media Co-op.

Earlier this week the NSGEU called for a run-off vote to determine which union would represent each of the four health care bargaining units that the liberal government wants to put in place.

That suggestion did not sit well with the other three unions, who are still supporting the bargaining association model, a mechanism that allows unions to negotiate collective agreements together.

The liberal government wants a mediator / arbitrator to make those decisions.

It's not clear to what extent the legislation allows for either run-off vote or bargaining associations. Health minister Leo Glavine's efforts to explain the government's intent have been confusing and contradictory.

“We all understand that we need to move forward and represent our members in the best way that we can (during the mediation process),” Lana Payne, Atlantic president of Unifor told the Media Co-op. “So it is up to the four health care unions to show leadership and get this done. Our solidarity was tested, but our resolve is really strong.”

For one thing, there are other urgent issues that will demand the unions' attention, Payne believes.

“We need to get this part done so we can fight the privatization and contracting-out agenda that this government is going to throw at us,” said Payne.

 

See also:

Health care workers call legislation a direct attack on unions

Larry Haiven to Law Amendments Committee: Machiavelli would be proud

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

 

 

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