Nova Scotia health-care unions seek strike vote

After seven days of conciliation, the bargaining union for several health care unions in Nova Scotia sent a message to members Wednesday saying the only way to get its bargaining proposal taken seriously is "to send a clear message" to the provincial health authority, IWK and government.

Vote will include 6,500 health-care union members from Yarmouth to Cape Breton

The union said details on the strike vote will be released in the coming days. (Robert Short/CBC)

Thousands of Nova Scotia health-care workers, including lab technologists, in-hospital paramedics and child psychologists, could be walking off the job soon.

The health-care bargaining unit, which is made up of members of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, CUPE, Unifor and the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, sent a message to its members Wednesday with the intention of seeking a strike vote.

"This is a regular part of bargaining for us. It's taken us two years to get here, but we made a decision that this is where we need to go because we are moving at a snail's pace and not getting much done if anything done at the table," said NSGEU president Jason MacLean.

4 years trying to reach deal

MacLean said the bargaining unit has been trying to reach a deal with the province for four years. He said the employers— the province, the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the IWK Health Centre — are not taking bargaining seriously.

"You can't just hold people out like that and have Stephen McNeil bragging that they have this big windfall of money when you have a crisis in health care. And you have the people working in the crisis in health care trying to keep it afloat, but you're not respecting them by just giving them a deal at the table," MacLean said.

According to the bargaining unit, it would be Nova Scotia's "first ever provincewide health-care bargaining unit strike vote."

6,500 voting members

The union said details on the strike vote will be released in the coming days.

The vote will include all 6,500 health-care bargaining unit members from Yarmouth to Cape Breton.

MacLean said some of the health-care bargaining unit's concerns include health and dental benefits and a proposal that allows employers to reassign employees wherever the employer wants.