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May 17, 2001

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Halifax The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is calling for province-wide public consultation on the controversial Bill 20, which the union says will give government unprecedented powers over unions and the ability to privatize all services, including education and health care.

The Government Restructuring Act will create a Public Service Commission which will have ultimate control over collective agreements that are now freely negotiated between unions and their employers.

Bill 20 is the biggest threat to free collective bargaining ever seen in this province, or indeed, this country, says CUPE Nova Scotia President Betty Jean Sutherland. It gives the government the power to delay or even disallow contract negotiations. It gives them the final say over what is negotiated in agreements. This dismantling of collective bargaining rights is completely untenable to CUPE and to the labour movement in general.

Sutherland says in addition the bill opens the door to widespread privatization of public services.

We are appalled that this government would even consider privatization schemes given the recent disastrous experience with P3 school construction, the repercussions of which are still ongoing, says Sutherland.

CUPE will present a brief on Bill 20 to Law Amendments this afternoon at 2:00 p.m., urging the government to delay passage of the Bill until public consultations can be held.

Copies of CUPEs brief will be available at the hearing or from the CUPE office by calling 455-4180.

For more information please contact Betty Jean Sutherland at (902) 396-5429.