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(Halifax) – The chief negotiator for CUPE says an offer from Health Minister Chris d’Entremont today to send all of the issues in the hospital dispute off to interest arbitration is like asking the unions to give up all of their bargaining power.

CUPE’s Acute Care coordinator Wayne Thomas says, “I know this minister is new to the portfolio and may not have any experience with collective bargaining, but asking our members to give up their legal right to strike when we are days away from a possible work stoppage is the height of naivety on the part of the minister.”

It is also quite disingenuous given that he must know, and we do, that it would be next to impossible to try and resolve a pension issue that affects some 60 different employers, 20,000 members and five unions in an interest arbitration format. That is not the place for it,” says Thomas.

On top of that, he’s asking us to give up the right to bargain pensions – which we literally just won in a Labour Board ruling – before we’ve even had the opportunity to use it. This shows a distinct lack of understanding of how collective bargaining works,” says Thomas.

We have been crystal clear with the minister. The pension issue will be dealt with at the bargaining table, where it belongs, or there will be a work stoppage by our 3,600 hospital workers in the days ahead.

The hospital employers and senior staff in the Department of Health have known about this since April 12, seven months ago, when we first tabled our pension proposals. They can’t say they didn’t know this was coming,” he says.

CUPE represents 3,600 technical, clerical and service workers at 33 hospitals outside the Capital District. The CAW, which is also in a strike position, has 1,800 hospital workers across Cape Breton and at the IWK.

For information:

Wayne Thomas
CUPE National Rep.
(902) 752-2244 (o)
(902) 759-1057 cell

John McCracken
CUPE Communications Rep.
(902) 455-4180 (o)