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(Truro) – The president of CUPE Nova Scotia says the MacDonald government’s plan to remove the right to strike from health care workers is like using a sledge hammer to swat a fly. Danny Cavanagh says, “Nova Scotians need to stop and think for a second about how few person hours have actually been lost to strikes in this sector in the last 25 years.  It is miniscule.  In other words, the system we currently have in place is working!” 

In fact,” says Cavanagh, “experiences in other provinces have shown that banning strikes doesn’t work.  The longest health care strikes in recent history have been in provinces with so-called bans.”

Says Cavanagh, “What is clear is that the Tories - desperate for something to latch onto that the public might support - have been doing some polling and, lo and behold, people don’t want strikes in the health care sector.  Well, nobody wants to see strikes in this sector…including the unions.

But the last 25 years have clearly demonstrated that the system we have in Nova Scotia is working at least as good, if not better, than other provinces,” he says.

“From a national perspective, CUPE NS has a great record,” said Paul Moist, President of CUPE National. “The IWK strike was the first disruption that has happened in acute care in many years, and it lasted only 15 hours. We don’t have a strike problem in Nova Scotia. We have a government that’s slipping in the polls and is trying to latch onto something they think the public will support.”

Says Cavanagh, “The biggest disruption in health care in this province is the lack of health care professionals.  How many Code Purples in emergency departments have we had over the last two or three years?  There have been four in the Southwest Health District alone since the fall of 2006.  The ER at Lillian Fraser in Tatamagouche is being shut down on a regular basis. A one-day strike at the IWK does not do nearly as much damage to youth as the shortage of mental health professionals at that same hospital does.”

“As the largest union in Canada, with 560,000 members, I can assure you that CUPE is not going to stand idly by and watch a minority government strip us of this fundamental right.  Look for a major public information campaign from us that clearly demonstrates to Nova Scotians that this idea is a total red herring.  There is no ‘strike’ problem to fix,” says Cavanagh. 


For information:    

Danny Cavanagh                                   John McCracken 

President, CUPE Nova Scotia               CUPE Communications Rep.

(902) 957-0822 (Cell)                           (902) 455-4180 (o)