Nova Scotia

Talks break off between nurses and Capital Health

Conciliation talks have broken off between the union representing more than 2,500 nurses and Nova Scotia's largest health authority.

Conciliation talks have broken off between the union representing more than 2,500 nurses and Nova Scotia's largest health authority.

A bargaining committee from the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union recommended Tuesday that the nurses in Local 97 reject a final offer from their employer — the Capital District Health Authority — and prepare for a strike.

The offer would give the nurses a one per cent pay increase in each of the last two years since their collective agreement expired on Oct. 31, 2009.

Joan Jessome, the president of the NSGEU, said the nurses in Local 97 are supposed to be the highest paid east of Montreal because they work at facilities where there is a broader range of patients and medical issues.

The offer of a retroactive one per cent increase in each of the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years is not enough, she said.

"It's a huge issue to them, they fought for that years gone by and an arbitration decision awarded them leading Atlantic Canada," Jessome told CBC News on Tuesday.

"They're prepared to fight to get that."

The registered nurses work in a variety of areas including mental health, public health, critical care, transplants, corrections, occupational health, education and rehabilitation.

They work at the Camp Hill Veterans' Memorial Building, the Victoria General sites, rehabilitation units and the Nova Scotia Hospital's forensic unit.

"The wages that we're looking for is to put them in place so they are, as RNs, leading in Atlantic Canada," said Jessome.

"This is the largest tertiary care centre east of Montreal. If we're not able to achieve that, that puts them behind Newfoundland and possibly even P.E.I."

The nurses will receive ballots and the employer's offer this week. Their votes will be counted on May 24 and Jessome said if there isn't a better offer, there may be a strike by mid-June.

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