The Nova Scotia government continues to use delaying tactics to abuse the new Highway Workers Act.
A total of 32 meetings have been held with little progress since the Act, which substitutes binding arbitration for the right to strike, was passed last year. Conciliation efforts ended in June yet the government is still dragging its feet, delaying the arbitration process that could lead to a resolution.
“Conciliation is off. It’s over,” says Local 1867 president Gareth Drinnan. “I’m confident when we go to binding arbitration, we have a really strong case.”
The union represents bridge and road crews, surveyors, mechanics, Cape Breton ferry operators and plow drivers. The main issue in the dispute is money. Management has offered a 3.8 per cent increase over 30 months; the union wants a one-year, 8 per cent deal. The average wage is $12.35 an hour.
CUPE National Representative Alex Somerville says the government is trying to force a further one-year wage freeze on highway workers by delaying any increase until November 1. Local 1867 members have not had a raise since 1991.