The Union Coalition believes it is time to send a clear message to employers, including the Nova Scotia Health Authority, the IWK Children`s Hospital and the Nova Scotia government. At the same time as the negotiations, the Council continues to work on negotiating an essential service agreement (ESA) with employers. ESA is being negotiated for the first time and has been called for by another law of the Liberal government. Liberal legislation prohibits unions from striking until a substantial service agreement is reached, severely limiting the Council`s influence at the negotiating table. After creation, ESA will determine which positions are considered part of an essential service to be able to continue working in the event of a work stoppage, strike or lockout. The Commission reviewed the negotiating priorities and collective agreements of Unifor, NSGEU, CUPE and NSNU on acute care. The team checks the language of the contract for all nurses in all categories to reach consensus on what to achieve, what needs to be expanded and what compromises may be needed. The 20-member Caregivers` Council began collective bargaining in early September, and meetings with employers continued until early this week, significantly reducing the issues Mr. Kaplan faces.
By the end of the week, Mr. Kaplan will be submitted in writing and we expect him to issue his order setting out the terms of the new collective care agreement shortly after verifying the submissions. Negotiations on a new collective agreement and essential service plans, which are now legislated, have been frustrating at best. It is time for us to send a strong signal to employers and the government that we expect them to take collective bargaining and council proposals seriously, and to work with the Council of Trade Unions to reach a bargaining agreement. After nearly 18 months of painful progress at the negotiating table, the unions are moving forward with a process that will conclude collective agreements for the four bargaining units by the end of the year. The Nova Scotia Health Council is made up of members of the Unifor, NSGEU, CUPE and NSNU negotiating committee and has been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement since October 2016.