TRURO - Nova Scotia's proposed first contract labour bill is a "line in the sand" between an impoverished, high-taxed province or a prosperous one, Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Ballie says.
"So that is why I am so determined that we are going to stop this bill by any means possible," he told a chamber of commerce breakfast audience of about 25 people in Truro on Monday.
"The time has come to tell the NDP to put the province first and their party second," Ballie said, regarding Bill 102, the proposed First Contract Arbitration legislation.
"These are the types of jobs that we need to protect now more than ever and grow in the future if we are going to have a truly prosperous province-wide economy for ourselves and for our children."
Michelin, which employs more than 3,000 workers in three Nova Scotia plants, Sobeys and other larger employers have also spoken out in opposition to the bill.
The aim of Bill 102 is to permit first collective bargaining agreements to be settled by an arbitrator or the Nova Scotia Labour Board.
But Ballie believes it would actually do more harm than good and he called on the province's NDP MLAs to reject the bill and put provincial interests ahead of party loyalties.
"This bill is about jobs. It's about keeping the jobs we have in places like Michelin and others and the jobs of the future that Truro and other places can hope to get because of the shipyard opportunity," he said.
Ballie suggested the bill is "being rushed through for no good reason" other than to appease the heads of large unions and that there is no reason for it in Nova Scotia.
"There's no problem. Nova Scotia has settled thousands of contracts over the last 14 years, many of them first contracts, amicably, in the way it should be through free-collective bargaining between management and a union," he said.
"They (NDP) are putting their own back-room interests ahead of the provincial interests. I think people see it for what it is."