The McNeil Liberals continue to make one bad choice after another, and imposing bill 148 is just another example. This is strictly a political move by the government, without thinking about the costly consequences for our citizens. It’s a political move because, at the end of the day, the Liberals will not likely be in power by the time this has navigated its way through the court system, and tax payers will have to shoulder the cost.
Let me ask – how have any of these legislative attacks improved our fiscal stability? The answer is, they haven’t. Unions have won several court challenges that are very similar, recently in BC and previously in Saskatchewan. Those cases upheld that governments cannot impose and/or take away people’s right to free and fair collective bargaining. That’s essentially what bill 148 is doing.
Today’s decision by the McNeil government to impose salaries and remove retirement benefits from those who provide public services is simply wrong, and together the unions will fight back. The lack of respect this government has shown towards workers in our province since coming to power is very troubling. Together, we will ensure that our members’ right to fair and free collective bargaining will be restored through legal challenges and by political means. These hard-working women and men who deliver valuable public services every day, along with their unions, have confidence that their charter rights to negotiate a fair contract, without having the terms dictated to them through legislation, will prevail.
The big question that people need to ask is this: why won’t the government come to the table and bargain with its unions? This government needs to come to the bargaining table, take everything off, start from scratch and act like mature adults and bargain collectively with its workers. Imposing contracts and or segments of a contract is wrong. We are deeply disappointed that they continue to make such political moves for their own gain. These games have to end, and the government needs to work harder to ensure we have a good and stable workforce.
Once Nova Scotians understand the cost of these court challenges, some may feel differently about the decisions their government is making. Keep in mind, the unions are moving ahead with legal challenges to previous bills invoked by the Liberals; bill 30 and 37, and the Teachers are pursuing a legal challenge on Bill 75. We are confident that together, the unions will also pursue a legal challenge on this bill – bill 148.
We watched as the Liberals, prior to the election, frivolously and haphazardly spent money and we ended our last fiscal year with a huge surplus. We need to understand that governments make choices, and it’s imperative they make good choices for the collective good of the province. It’s these poor choices that should be blamed for our fiscal woes. Workers do not make these fiscal choices – government does. Spending upwards of a billion dollars on P3 schools is just one example, costing us big bucks. Imposing bill 148 within unionized sectors of the province of Nova Scotia is not a good choice. It is unfortunate that the McNeil Liberals will not invest in its workers, and is more focused on imposing its own agenda, which does nothing to improve the public services that Nova Scotian’s rely on.
I want to be clear that we want to work with government, and we think we have a lot to contribute and offer. Though, proceeding in this fashion will certainly not promote a positive working relationship. We think the Liberals have forgotten that they have a one seat majority in province house. Any government in such a situation should be a bit more proactive, and more inclined to work and communicate with its workers and unions, rather than impose its legislative hammer on some seventy-five thousand unionized members in this province.
We call on the Liberals to revoke all these bills, behave responsibly, and respect our rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in this country and bargain collectively.