Essential services bill unfair, says NSGEU president

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TRURO - The provincial government is expected to introduce a bill Friday that will ultimately force the end of a strike by home support workers.

Joan Jessome, Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union president, said the impending legislation is very "oppressive."

"The legislation is the most oppressive in the country ... it's dark ages and about (Premier Stephen) McNeil not wanting to pay the workers. It wasn't about the clients ... it's a real slap in the face," Jessome told the Truro Daily News late Thursday afternoon.

Jessome confirmed NSGEU Local 34, home support workers at Northwood in Halifax, will go on strike today at 8 a.m., while VON workers, including in Colchester County, are scheduled for strike Tuesday morning.

However, Jessome said, "when legislation passes, the strike will be illegal and over ... and everyone is 100 per cent back to work."

When that legislation will officially be passed is unknown, said Jessome.

"I'm pretty sure it won't be passed (Friday)," she said, suggesting a large amount of discussion and policy will take place before it becomes an act.

According to a news release, the act would require Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union and Canadian Union of Public Employees locals, and the employers of home support workers, to provide essential services during a work stoppage or lockout.

Jessome said there was a way to prevent the strike. On Friday morning, she wrote to McNeil offering binding arbitration for this round of bargaining only for the group.

"He flat out said no," Jessome told this paper.

Twitter: tdnMonique

Organizations: Nova Scotia Government, General Employees Union, Truro Daily News Northwood Canadian Union of Public Employees

Geographic location: Halifax, Colchester County

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