Halifax hospital workers could strike April 25

Lack of essential services legislation leads to cancellations

Halifax could see 3,600 of its hospital workers on strike tomorrow if mediated talks between the union representing the workers and the provincial government don’t go as planned.

UPDATE: Halifax hospital workers reach deal, avert strike

The NDP-led Nova Scotia government said it wouldn’t intervene with the labour dispute, even though the progressive conservative party was calling for it.

"The parties are at the table and I'm not going to insert myself into this process in any way," Health Minister Maureen MacDonald said. "I'm not going to speculate. I remain hopeful that a settlement can be reached at the table."

The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU), the union representing the workers, says picket lines could be up as early as April 25. As a result, elective surgeries and outpatient services would be cancelled. Emergency services would remain unaffected.

When asked about details of negotiations, NSGEU president Joan Jessome declined to comment. She did add that the involvement of a government-appointed mediator has renewed the progress of talks.

At the centre of the dispute is wages. The NSGEU is demanding a 5.1 per cent increase in the first year to match an arbitrator's earlier award for the area’s registered nurses. For the remaining three years of the collective agreement, the union is also asking for cost-of-living increases, while the Capital District Health Authority is offering a one per cent pay increase in each of the three years.

There is no essential services legislation in place in Nova Scotia preventing strikes in the health care sector.

The NSGEU represents Halifax nurses, occupational therapists, social workers and medical lab technicians.

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