Truro – If Nova Scotians are looking for a focus on International Women’s Day (IWD) this year, they need look no further than the thousands of home support workers who’ve had their rights stripped by the McNeil Government.
That blunt assessment comes from CUPE Nova Scotia President Danny Cavanagh, who says, “The vast majority of home support workers in our province are women. If you look around the country where different jurisdictions have essential services legislation, it has the clear effect of preventing job action.
“If unions are limited to taking 20% or 30% of their members out on strike, that is virtually the same as banning strikes outright. This is a huge step backwards for these women in Nova Scotia,” says Cavanagh
Meanwhile, CUPE Nova Scotia Women’s Committee Chair Sharon Hubley says, “Of the five home support groups we represent in the province, two of them already have signed deals, and the other three are in bargaining and nowhere near taking any kind of job action.
“It’s clear to us that the McNeil government and Labour Minister Kelly Regan’s Bill 30 is setting the table for further legislative action that will be aimed at other groups of health care workers. As the largest health care union in Canada, we can only say shame on this government for targeting female workers in this way.
“We should be looking for ways to improve the lives and working conditions of the women in our province, not stripping away their rights to free and fair collective bargaining,” says Hubley. As one noted historian put it “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Moves to weaken or end women’s ability to take direct job action – such as striking – escalates at a rate almost parallel to the rate at which healthcare and social service organizing is taking place. Towards the base of the job pyramid, these jobs are predominantly occupied by women – often racialized women. Minister Kelly Regan’s move isn’t coincidental. It is deeply cynical. And it is deeply exploitative.