Nova Scotia

Northwood staff reject latest offer

Staff at a Halifax care home for seniors have rejected a pay offer and are in a position to go on strike.

Care home workers poised to strike

Staff at Northwood Care rejected management's latest offer. (Google Streetview)

Staff at a Halifax care home for seniors have rejected a pay offer and are in a position to go on strike.

The Canadian Auto Workers Union said 52 per cent of members voted to reject Northwood Care's latest offer at meetings on Thursday and Friday. The union represents approximately 550 workers and said 75 per cent had voted.

Jim Mott, a business agent with the union, said workers had been in a position to strike since Thursday. "At some point next week we'll serve 48 hours notice that we're going on strike," he said.

Mott said the union would meet over the weekend to set a strike date. He said the union last talked to Northwood when it sent a revised offer Tuesday and is still open to talks.

"They're an angry bunch. They're disappointed that they can't achieve a fair settlement, or something that's closer to what other employees in the health-care industry get," Mott said of the workers.

"You would always like it to be more of a majority, but it spoke and I have to follow what they asked me to do."

He said many of those who voted for the offer did so out of concern for the residents and a desire to keep working, not because they thought it was a good deal.

'We thought it was a fair offer'

John Verlinden of Northwood said he was disappointed by the vote. He said the narrow result showed many were not opposed to the deal.

"We thought it was a fair offer in line with settlements that had already been reached within our sector," he said. "I think what we have to do on Monday is sit down and talk about how we move forward from this."

He said the company is open to further talks with the union, but said Northwood had made its final offer.

"There is nothing really much more we can offer," he said. "We have to talk with the union to see where the solution to this lies. At some point an agreement has to be reached."

The union workers include licensed practical nurses, care workers, dietary, environmental and maintenance staff, as well as beauty salon employees.

"Northwood's primary focus remains with the resident and providing a level of care appropriate to their needs," Northwood said in a media release posted to its website.

"In the event of a work stoppage, delivery of care will continue to be provided with registered nursing staff, non-union personnel and other resources as needed."