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Liberal dream come true or wishful thinking?

No unionized workers at new Department of Business, says Minister

by Robert Devet

Mark Furey, Minister of the newly  minted Department of Business, says no unionized workers need apply at his Department. But that decision is not up to him. (artist rendition).
Mark Furey, Minister of the newly minted Department of Business, says no unionized workers need apply at his Department. But that decision is not up to him. (artist rendition).

KJIPUKTUK) HALIFAX - It appears Mark Furey, Minister of the Department of Business, was jumping the gun yesterday.

There will be no unionized workers in his brand new department, he told the Chronicle Herald. Not a single one.

“This particular department is going to be very responsive,” Mark Furey is quoted as saying. “It’s going to require a tremendous amount of flexibility, and that’s best served through the excluded classification.” 

Of course flexibility and accountability do not always align.

Without the well-defined framework provided by the collective bargaining agreement how do we ensure that people are hired based on merit? Without the ability to file a formal grievance how do we ensure that workers are treated fairly, union activists ask.

Earlier this month the Liberal government eliminated the Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Department.

75 full-time employees were laid off. Some workers were transferred to other departments.

Sixteen former Economic and Rural Development staff moved to the newly created Department, while another fifteen positions remain to be filled. 

Any union workers within government accepted for the jobs will have to leave their bargaining units, Furey decreed.

However, when all is said and done it is not Mark Furey's decision.

The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) is already talking to legal counsel about its options to challenge the exclusions.

”It appears that many of the new positions should be unionized,” writes Jason MacLean, acting NSGEU President, in an email. “(W)e object in principle to the wholesale exclusion of these positions.”

According to the Act Respecting Collective Bargaining in the Civil Service such disagreements are resolved by the Labour Board.

So this story is not over yet.

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