HALIFAX – Five unions representing more than 20,000 health care workers in the NSAHO (Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations) pension plan are calling a ruling from the Labour Relations Board a landmark decision.
The Board ruling has reaffirmed what the unions have been saying all along – and the employers groups have been denying - that they have the right to bargain pensions in the health care sector.
The decision stems from a complaint filed by the District Health Authorities, the employers, that one of the unions, CUPE, was bargaining in bad faith by trying to negotiate improvements to the pension plan.
CUPE and the CAW are currently in bargaining with the DHA’s, who have almost full control over the NSAHO pension plan. The other three unions involved in the dispute are NSGEU, NSNU and SEIU.
The Board ruled that the employers’ assertion CUPE was bargaining in bad faith had no merit. The four other unions had intervener status at the hearings because they would be directly affected by the ruling.
Use of the pension plan surplus is a major bone of contention with the unions. The NSAHO’s own numbers show that since 1998 health care employers across the province have used tens of millions of dollars of the plan surplus to make their own contributions to the plan.
The unions claim the partial contribution holidays were not only unfair to plan members but were also taken in breach of the Plan Text. They have joined together in this round of bargaining to make sure the practice is brought to an end and other improvements to the plan are put in place.
Carl Crouse, Chair CUPE Bargaining Committee (902) 825-9477
Joan Jessome President, NSGEU (902) 471-4566
Janet Hazleton, President, NSNU (902) 456-2084
Victor Tomiczek, National Rep., CAW (902) 455-9327
Gerrard Higgins, SEIU Rep. (902) 455-1095