Nova Scotia

Unions marching on Labour Day air frustrations with McNeil government

'They're proving to be a very tough partner at the bargaining table with all manner of workers,' says one labour leader.

Nova Scotia Teachers Union has been negotiating with province since December

Devin Rose Frost, 10, attends the Labour Day rally in Halifax. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

Hundreds of people rallied in Halifax's Victoria Park to mark Labour Day and draw attention to several negotiations underway involving Nova Scotia unions. 

Workers made their way from the park to the Halifax Commons to the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching In," waving union flags and holding signs calling for workers to unite. 

Speakers railed against the provincial government for its handling of contract talks with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, which has been negotiating since members voted down a tentative agreement in December.

"We're not seeing any movement from the government regarding wages or wage increases, or increases or continuation of our service awards, which we're very disappointed about," said Liette Doucet, president of the union which represents 10,000 teachers.

"I can't say that we're happy and I don't believe other groups are happy either." 

Herald on strike since January

​The Halifax Typographical Union, whose members have been on strike from the Chronicle Herald since January, was also represented at the rally. 

Stephen Forest said the Herald workers on strike are staying strong. 

"I think a lot of people are still hopeful, certainly, that a deal can be made," Forest said.

"A lot of days it's quite discouraging, but when you get a group like this today—we have a wonderful group of people that have come out to celebrate Labour Day. It really buoys a lot of spirits."

Can't 'take things for granted'

Suzanne MacNeil, president of the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council, said it's important to continue marching every Labour Day to draw attention to the past gains of the labour movement and to fight for future generations of workers. 

"Here in Nova Scotia, we definitely haven't been able to take things for granted, especially not with the McNeil government in Province House," MacNeil said. 

"They're proving to be a very tough partner at the bargaining table with all manner of workers."