NEW GLASGOW – Wage parity is the issue that’s prompted more than 400 long-term care workers in Pictou County to vote in favour of a strike.
CUPE Local 2330 President Nan McFadgen says the employees at Glen Haven Manor, Valley View Villa and the Maritime Oddfellows Home voted 96 per cent in favour of job action during a strike vote held this week.
That number is staggering, said McFadgen.
“One of the sites voted 100 per cent in favour of job action,” she said. “In my history, in 13 years, that’s an extremely high percentage. It sends a really strong message.”
There’s only one sticking point in negotiations, said McFadgen, and that’s the issue of wage parity.
“We have to have parity with acute care,” she explained.
And that’s nothing new for these workers – they just want to maintain the status quo.
“It’s not about achieving parity, it’s maintaining it,” McFadgen said. “We’re not looking for more than we’ve ever had, we’re just looking for the same.”
While she believes the long-term care facilities would give that to the workers in a heartbeat, it’s the government the union is negotiating with as these facilities are government-funded.
“They can’t pay us more than they’re funded,” she said.
No strike date has been set yet. As part of the union’s provincial bargaining unit, they’ll return to the table on Sept. 30 for conciliation talks with the lead table, MacGillivray Nursing Home in Sydney. From there, a decision will be made.
“It’ll be up to the government then,” McFadgen said.
Lisa M. Smith, administrator of Glen Haven Manor, said a potential strike will not negatively impact the residents of the facility.
“We always have a strike plan in place,” Smith said. “Labour disruptions or strike planning is always a part of doing business at Glen Haven Manor.”
The 400 local workers are among the health care workers in 36 long-term care facilities across the province represented by the union.