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The gloves are off

Nova Scotia Federation of Labour vows to fight McNeil Liberals

by Robert Devet

In one of his last acts as president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour now retired Rick Clarke addresses labour activists at the Nova Scotia Department of Labour. Photo Robert Devet
In one of his last acts as president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour now retired Rick Clarke addresses labour activists at the Nova Scotia Department of Labour. Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK, HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour (NSFL) bi-annual convention at the unionized Holiday Inn in Dartmouth was the last one in a long string of such gatherings chaired by veteran president Rick Clarke. He was first elected president of the NSFL in 1989.

Most unions in Nova Scotia are affiliated with the NSFL, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union being the main exception.

Many speakers at the convention, including Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff and interim NDP leader Maureen MacDonald, paid tribute to the well-liked and personable Clarke.

Clarke will be replaced by current CUPE Nova Scotia president Danny Cavanagh, who fought off a challenge by Gordie MacDonald. MacDonald is a Canadian Union of Postal Workers member and president of the Cape Breton District Labour Council.

It's safe to say no fans of premier McNeil were among the delegates.

The provincial government has removed the right to strike from healthcare and homecare workers, and was behind an ultimately unsuccessful push to assign workers to unions not of their choosing.

The provincial Liberals are also formally looking at privatizing land, business and motor vehicle registries, and have publicly mused about privatizing homecare.

On Monday the 200+ delegates attending the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour convention in Dartmouth rallied at the offices of the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education in downtown Halifax.

“We're going after all the people who are in the cabinet room,” Clarke told the crowd. “They are the ones who are making these decisions, they are the ones who are attacking workers' rights. We're not going away.”

Resolutions were at times fiercely debated.

One resolution that was adopted instructed the NSFL to conduct a campaign to make $15-an hour the minimum wage in Nova Scotia.

A similar resolution will see the NSFL undertake an educational campaign to counteract the provincial government's anti-union stance.

Many delegates spoke in support of a motion opposed to the privatization of our public registries.

Other resolutions dealt with topics such as climate change, missing and murdered indigenous women, privatization of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, racism, and equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

A resolution in support of postal banking was also endorsed, and news that the newly elected federal Liberals have halted the Community mailbox roll-out was celebrated.

The delegates also voted to continue their support of the Halifax Media Co-op.  

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Topics: Labour
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