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Negotiating Committees for 4,100 hospital workers and more than 3,000 school board workers outside of Halifax have announced a strike deadline of Monday, January 18, 2010.

The decision came out of a joint committee meeting held in Halifax on January 6 and was made at an afternoon news conference attended by all major media outlets. This is the first time in CUPE Nova Scotia’s history that both of these sectors have decided to co-ordinate a possible strike in this manner.

In making the announcement, Acute Care Chair Karen MacKenzie said, “We are aware of the many reports that have been out there about a possible strike on January 11. We believe that both the public and our employers deserve fair notice on any potential job action which is why we have chosen January 18.”

Wilfirdine Crowdis, Chair of the Nova Scotia School Board Council of Unions, joined MacKenzie in announcing the deadline.  “In accordance with the province’s Trade Union Act, we will be giving our employers their 48 hours strike notice on Friday, January 15. I do want to emphasize, however, that CUPE’s goal is to avert a strike and get a negotiated settlement.”

CUPE Nova Scotia President Danny Cavanagh - also in attendance at the news conference - said, “We believe these 12 days give the employers and the provincial government some breathing room to get the parties back to the bargaining table to come up with a solution to the current impasse. This would be a massive disruption of services which is not the preferred option for either side in this dispute.”

Both committee chairs reiterated that the CUPE bargaining teams are more than ready to get back to the bargaining table to resolve the outstanding items which include the key issue of wage parity for hospital workers and a wage offer for school board workers that is equal to what teachers and other workers in the sector have already received.