Nova Scotia’s Liberal government has rammed through Bill 1 which will radically restructure healthcare bargaining in the province and unleash an enormous union-busting attack on healthcare workers. This follows on the heels of Bill 37, which was passed in April by the Liberals and stripped 40,000 healthcare workers of the right-to-strike.
The Liberals have sold the bill as reducing inefficiencies in the healthcare system by reducing the number of health authorities and the number of bargaining units from 50 to four.
The bill, however, is a naked frontal assault on basic democratic rights. As NSGEU president Joan Jessome points out, Bill 1:
- Allows employers to dictate which unions healthcare workers belong to – with no democratic say by workers
- Allows employers to help decide what collective agreement benefits workers must accept
- Instructs mediators/arbitrators to choose the most “harmonious” union and allows the employer to select that union
The bill is likely unconstitutional and will not survive a court challenge, but this will not stop the government from implementing it. Point #1 already violates the province’s Trade Union Act which expressly forbids employers from choosing which union a worker belongs to. Currently, healthcare workers in Nova Scotia either belong to NSGEU, CUPE, Unifor or the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union.
In the first video below, healthcare workers speak out against Bill 1. In the second video, NSGEU’s labour lawyer Ray Larkin breaks down Bill 1 and explains its anti-union, anti-democratic nature.