Nova Scotia·Video

Negotiations resume in Capital Health dispute

A mediator is working with Capital Health and the union representing thousands of its workers Saturday in an effort to avert a strike.

A mediator is working with Capital Health and the union representing thousands of workers Saturday in an effort to avert a strike.

About 3,600 employees who work in just about every hospital department are in a position to walk off the job Wednesday. The strike would cause major disruptions to healthcare in the province's largest health authority.

The province appointed Bruce Outhouse to act as mediator Friday.

Joan Jessome, the president of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, says they're open to Outhouse's suggestions.

Union members could strike on Wednesday. (CBC)

"We've always said we would like to get a deal to avert a strike so we'll do our best.  But I don't know if he can work magic, if he can bring to the sides to a point where there's something acceptable to the membership," she said.

Jessome said union members will get to vote if an offer emerges from the mediation process. That vote would take three days, and delay the walkout.

The two sides are at odds over wages. The union has been offered a 1% raise per year but they're seeking the 5% RN's received.

Outhouse has requested a media blackout, so neither party is expected to comment Saturday.

Talks are scheduled all day Saturday and Sunday at the Holiday Inn in Dartmouth.

IWK may be affected

The IWK, which shares some services with Capital Health, is making arrangements to minimize the impact of a strike.

Seven surgeries have been postponed because of tissue testing availability.

IWK spokeswoman Jocelyn Vine said they're expecting an increase in the number of pregnant women coming in for routine blood tests if the strike happens.

"We know we do approximately 50 percent of that blood work here at the IWK so that means a significant portion of women whose blood work needs to be done are getting it done at Capital Health," she said.

Vine said the IWK is also preparing for an expected increase in the number of children's x-rays if other emergency rooms are busy during a walkout.