HEU condemns Nova Scotia government’s anti-labour Bill 68

Union president Muzin calls on Premier Hamm to withdraw draconian legislation

Health care workers from coast to coast have taken to the streets to fight for better working and caring conditions and to defend public Medicare. The provincial governments in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, in desperate responses, have resorted to anti-labour legislation that takes away the right to strike and denies access to free collective bargaining in health care. Liberal premiers Gordon Campbell and John Hamm have bulldozed through their Healthcare Services Continuation Acts—oddly enough the two bills share the same name—claiming they are in the public’s best interest.

HEU is standing in solidarity with our sisters and brothers as B.C.’s paramedical professionals and registered nurses fight back against the Campbell government’s misguided move. And HEU is standing in solidarity with CUPE Nova Scotia health workers, too.

HEU president Fred Muzin wrote to Premier Hamm on behalf of the union’s 46,000 members to express outrage and to condemn Bill 68 as soon as the offending bill was tabled.

“This legislation [Bill 68] represents the most draconian approach to labour relations and strips the unions of their fundamental rights to represent members at the bargaining table and to take strike action,” Muzin wrote. “Bill 68 is an insult.”

CUPE Nova Scotia’s acute care workers voiced their political opposition to Bill 68 on June 25 as they joined other health sector workers in a Day of Protest. Picket lines were up at hospitals across the province with workers ensuring that emergency services were maintained at every facility.

CUPE members circulated a bed sheet petition in the premier’s own riding, collecting signatures—more than 500 to date—of constituents who oppose the legislation and want it withdrawn.

Muzin echoed that call. “We strongly recommend that you [Hamm] abandon this ill- conceived strategy,” he wrote. “Instead, we call on you to provide your negotiators with a mandate to conclude fair and reasonable settlements that respect the hard work and commitment of health workers in your province.”