Stephen McNeil has power to prevent nurse strike, says union

The head of the union that represents nurses in Nova Scotia's largest health authority is telling Premier Stpehen McNeil that he's the one who can make contract talks resume at Capital Health.

NSGEU president Joan Jessome says McNeil a 'big part' of what's happening at bargaining table

The head of the union that represents nurses in Nova Scotia's largest health authority says Premier Stephen McNeil has the power to prevent a looming strike.

On Thursday, McNeil said he wants the Capital District Health Authority and the union to resume bargaining.

But Joan Jessome, president of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union Local 97, said the union won't ask until it's clear the health district will discuss nurse to patient ratios.

She said, that's where the premier comes in.

“The premier fully knows that it requires both parties to be at a bargaining table to resolve the contract but he also knows that the employer has no intention of moving, nor even discussing the articles that are outstanding for us," said Jessome.

"The premier is well aware what’s going on at the bargaining table and to implore that we both go back, he’s just trying to say he has nothing to do with the table and in actual fact, he has been a big part of what’s happened at the bargaining table."

Jessome said McNeil should give the green light to Capital Health to discuss outstanding issues.

Nurses have voted overwhelmingly in favour of striking if their contract dispute is not settled. A main sticking point is the union's demand for nurse-to-patient ratios, something opposed by the health authority.

April 3 is the strike deadline and the McNeil government has not said whether it will introduce essential services legislation to keep nurses on the job.

Jessome said the mediator is on standby, if the district has a new offer.

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