The board of directors at Autumn House womens shelter in Amherst, Nova Scotia has refused a contract proposal from workers that would have saved the shelter at least $10,000.
Im shocked they turned us down, said CUPEs Terry Goulding, the chief negotiator for the 11 workers, who went on strike August 11. We thought we made a fair compromise. When we first put forward this proposal to the boards executive, they seemed really optimistic, and shook our hands.
That was on Tuesday night, after a 3 hour meeting with conciliator Darrel Foley. But this morning, board chair Mary Dee MacPherson rejected the proposal. Now, the shelter workers are back on the picket line. Yesterday, in the spirit of cooperation, they didnt picket the employer while board members considered the proposal.
There was a lot of give and take in our offer, said Goulding. For instance, we agreed to eliminate the long-term disability benefits, like the board wanted. In exchange, we asked for a modest pension plan, one thats less than most Nova Scotia workers take for granted. Our new proposal would have saved the board at least $10,000 compared to our last offer.
Goulding said it seems like the board doesnt care about finding a solution, and isnt working hard enough to obtain one. This morning they told us all of our proposals were off, except for the wage increase. But the raise was never in doubt, because the province has already agreed to fund it.
Goulding said the workers will now take their concerns straight to Province House. Next Thursday, Sept. 4, the women will set up an information picket for MLAs, as they enter the Legislature to elect a new Speaker. This strike is proof that transition houses must be funded 100%, said Goulding, and were going to make sure Premier John Hamm and his colleagues get our message loud and clear.