N.S. government bows to pressure from unions to send entire wage freeze bill for constitutional review


October 4, 2017

Halifax - The Nova Scotia government has sent the entire Bill 148 to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal for constitutional review after pressure from Unifor and six other unions.

Bill 148 is McNeil’s latest attack on worker rights, and the unions believe the legislated public-sector wage freeze and imposed concessions are a violation of fair and free collective bargaining.

Initially the province excluded some sections of the Public Services Sustainability Act when it sent it to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to get an opinion on its constitutionality.

“I want to thank our Unifor members who made a difference with their voices and their activism,” said Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director.

Lana Payne and Nova Scotia Federation of Labour President Danny Cavanagh sit behind a row of microphones at a press conference.

Unifor and other unions are defending worker’s rights by applying for party status in the ongoing Bill 148 legal review.

It’s a small victory in an ongoing fight over the provincial government’s “anti-worker agenda” said Payne.

Bill 148 directly impacts approximately 4,600 Unifor members, many of whom earn modest wages in acute and long-term care facilities.

The section of the legislation that deals with freezing payments received by retirees for long service will now be part of the court review.

Bill 148 froze those payments retroactively to April 1, 2015, and the bill proposes that new employees receive no long service payments.

Background: The Effects of Bill 148

  For anyone covered under a public sector collective agreement, Bill 148:

  • Limits pay increases according to the defined schedule over 5 years: 0%, 0%, 0.1% and 1.5% with an additional 0.5% at the last date of the term. These small increases fall behind basic cost-of-living increases, estimated at about 1% per year in Nova Scotia.  
  • Stops retirement allowance accrual after April 1,2015. This means that someone who retires tomorrow will get the benefit accrued to April 1,2015 and paid at their salary at that date.
  • In the event of bargaining proceeding to arbitration, an arbitrator is prohibited from granting wage increases beyond what is stated in Bill 148.