Nova Scotia home care staff back to work after strike

Strike law passes in rare weekend sitting

Hundreds of home care workers were ordered back to work on March 1 after the Nova Scotia government passed legislation restricting strike action.

The home care workers’ strike ended when the governing Liberals voted unanimously for Bill 30 — the Essential Home-support Services Act — in a rare weekend sitting of the Nova Scotia Legislature.

The bill makes a strike by home care workers illegal until worker representatives and employers can determine who is considered an essential worker and what services must continue during strike action.

If employers and unions are unable to agree, the decision would be submitted to the Nova Scotia Labour Board.

Joan Jessome, president of the Nova Scotia Governmnet and General Employees Union (NSGEU), said the new law is the most “heavy-handed” imposed on essential services in Canada.

“This legislation wasn’t written so we’d have essential services,” Jessome said in a statement. “It was written so we wouldn’t have the right to strike... There is no fairness in this legislation; no balance for public safety or workers’ rights.”

The main issue for the striking workers, Jessome said, is pay equity.

“These workers are asking to be paid the same wage as those who do their same jobs in hospitals.”

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