Nova Scotia

Province contradicts mayor in Metro Transit strike

Nova Scotia's deputy premier says it was not the provincial government that asked a new conciliator to get involved in the Metro Transit strike.

Mayor Peter Kelly says conciliator appointed by N.S.

Nova Scotia's deputy premier says it was not the provincial government that asked a new conciliator to get involved in the Metro Transit strike.

Frank Corbett told reporters on Thursday that Ken Zwicker — the Chief Industrial Relations Officer for the Labour and Advanced Education Department — can make up his own mind and get involved when he sees fit.

But Corbett said, contrary to what the mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality said earlier this week, the province did not put Zwicker in charge of the Metro Transit file.

"It wasn't done through the province, I guess that's the only answer I've got for that," he told reporters.

"The fact of that matter is that Mr. Zwicker is head of that division, has the right to get involved at what level he sees fit and it was not done by the direction of this government."

Earlier this week, Mayor Peter Kelly told reporters Halifax regional council wanted to "take up the offer" from the province and sit down with their head conciliator.

"We want to take up the offer of the conciliator that has been appointed by the province," Kelly said Tuesday night.

"The province has appointed the lead, the head conciliator today to handle this situation. The government has appointed that individual."

But Corbett contradicted that and said the government had not asked the Labour and Advanced Education Department to change its original position in appointing John Greer, who has been the conciliator in the Metro Transit contract dispute thus far.

"It's our position that Mr. Zwicker, if he wanted to kind of boot it upstairs have another set of eyes look at that, it's his prerogative," the deputy premier told reporters.

"It wasn't done on our insistence, for sure."

Members of Local 508 of the Amalgamated Transit Union have rejected the offer for further conciliation, arguing binding arbitration is the only way to settle the contract dispute.

More than 700 Metro Transit workers walked off the job Feb. 2, leaving roughly 55,000 commuters without bus or ferry service.

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