Nurse upset over strike suspension, says she was off sick

Ruth Davenport, Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - At least one Capital Health nurse says she’s been officially told she’ll be suspended for two days in the wake of April’s illegal strike – even though she has a doctor’s note and prescription medication proving she was home sick and not on the picket lines.

Striking nurses protest outside the Halifax Infirmary in Halifax on Thursday, April 3, 2014. The nurses are on a legal strike that the provincial government intends to shut down with essential services legislation as early as Friday.

The nurse, who asked not to be identified, said a sinus infection and upset stomach made her “miserable” at work the day before the strike on April 1.

She called in sick on March 31 – hours before the union decided to go ahead with the walkout.

“I made up my mind that I was not going to be at work the next day,” said the woman Wednesday. “My daughter was going to be at daycare, so it was a day that I could rest, so that was it.”

She was off most of the rest of the week and prescribed two different medications.

She submitted the doctor’s note to Capital Health managers during a meeting in late April, and authorized them to speak with her doctor for further information.

However, she hasn’t been paid for the sick day and was told Tuesday she’d be suspended for two days this summer.

“It feels really crappy, because they’re essentially saying their employees are lying. And their doctors are lying,” she said.

“I know I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Capital Health director of people services Bruce English said doctor’s notes aren’t sufficient documentation for a day when an illegal strike took place and 175 people didn’t show up to work.

He said the suspensions will be revisited through a grievance process.

“The onus goes on them to show that they were off,” he said. “If they’re able to do that legitimately, we’ll take that into account and if the discipline needs to be adjusted or rescinded, we would.”

English said additional proof required beyond a doctor’s note would vary from case to case.

Nova Scotia Government and Employees Union President Joan Jessome said there are several nurses with doctor’s notes for legitimate absences who are facing suspensions.

She said a doctor’s note is accepted for any other kind of sick leave, and the nurse shouldn’t have to provide anything further.

Jessome said she has a “very strong case” for having the suspension repealed.

“What the employer did, through anger I would think, they just said, well we’re going to get them for this…and everyone’s going to be punished,” said Jessome.

Organizations: Capital Health, Nova Scotia Government and Employees Union

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