Nova Scotia’s biggest union says a vote on the tentative agreement between civil servants and the province will take place in March at the earliest.
Initially, the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union planned to hold the vote in early December, then it was moved to sometime in January and now it has been delayed at least two more months from that.
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“We made commitment we would go around the province and meet with the locals that’s still underway,” Union President Joan Jessome said. “Until all of that is completed we’re not going to be doing a vote.”
Bill 148 would impose a wage settlement on public sector workers in Nova Scotia. It was passed in December following a marathon debate in the provincial legislature.
Jessome says winter weather and scheduling issues have delayed some of those meetings with her 7,600 civil service members, and at least four meetings still need to take place. She says the union isn’t dragging its feet, but rather doing its due diligence to make sure members know what they’re voting on.
The government’s public sector wage legislation changed the playing field, Jessome said. Even though it hasn’t been proclaimed into law, the government could bring it into force at anytime because it has already passed third reading. The bill’s introduction in the middle of negotiations “incensed” her members, she said, and she thinks it tipped the scales against the tentative agreement.
“Our polling tells us they’ll reject it,” Jessome said.
In December, Premier Stephen McNeil signaled his impatience about the delay saying he hoped that there would have been a number of deals ratified by then. However, in a statement to Global News on Friday, he struck a more conciliatory tone saying he looks forward to the union holding a vote because “it will bring an end to some uncertainty that exists for employees.”
Once a vote is started it will take between three and four weeks to complete, Jessome said, because it will be done by mail rather than online.
With a file from