Health Care Bargaining Unit
Essential Services Process Underway, Unions File Complaint with Labour Board
Dear CUPE member,
Your bargaining committee has begun preparations for bargaining for the Health Care bargaining unit.
As a result of legislation passed by the past Liberal provincial government, CUPE now bargains as part of a Council of Unions. Along with Unifor and the NSGEU for the Health Care Council, we collectively represent approximately 7,500 health care workers working in a wide variety of roles at Nova Scotia Health (NSH) throughout the province and the IWK.
We are also now compelled by legislation to work with the employer to establish an Essential Services staffing agreement prior to any legal strike action taking place.
In the recent round of bargaining with Health Administrative Professionals, employer representatives used the process to frustrate and delay members’ right to strike.
In accordance with the legislation, the unions initiated the Essential Services negotiating process for the Health Care group as soon as possible, writing to the employers in May (six months prior to the expiry of your collective agreement) to request they provide their Essential Service staffing plan. The employer responded that they needed the Labour Board to resolve an outstanding dispute regarding what staffing model would be used to determine the plan for the Administrative Professionals’ group, first. That dispute was settled on August 21st, after which time the unions wrote to Nova Scotia Health to advise that the Council now expected the Health Authority to begin negotiations for an essential services agreement “without delay” and requesting they provide the date by which the Health Authority would provide its proposed plan for maintaining essential health and community services.
More than three weeks later, the employer representative responded with three proposed dates to meet to negotiate essential services. It did not respond to the request for a date by which the Health Authority would submit its proposed staffing plan.
The next day, the union responded to accept the proposed meeting dates and stated the Council expected the Health Authority to provide its staffing plan on or before October 27, 2023, the first of the proposed meeting dates. The employer failed to do so during the brief meeting that was held on October 27th and could not commit to providing a plan by November 20th, the next planned meeting date.
In an effort to ensure the employers live up to their legislated obligation to conclude an Essential Services plan for your bargaining unit in a timely manner, the unions today filed a formal complaint with the Labour Board, arguing the employer is in violation of Section 6(4) and 7(1) of the Essential Health and Community Service Act.
We have requested the Board issue an order requiring the Nova Scotia Health Authority to provide the Council with a proposed plan for maintaining essential health or community services by noon on November 20th, 2023, and direct the parties to conduct good faith negotiations toward an essential services agreement beginning on November 22, 2023, and continuing on December 6 and 18, 2023, and on January 9 and 22, 2024, and on such further dates that the Board identifies.
We will update you once we have received the Board’s decision.
Please keep a close eye on your email over the coming weeks, as bargaining preparation for your group begins, and speak with your coworkers to ensure they are receiving updates from the union, as well.