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OPINION: Herald labour impasse cries out for government intervention

Common sense would suggest our downsized majority government has an opportunity to mend some fences (with the labour movement) ... So surely the strike at the province's largest daily newspaper, The Chronicle Herald, that has lasted more than 500 days, provides just such an opportunity. It is painfully clear that all traditional methods have been exhausted at this point in the work stoppage.
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Solidarity-BBQ
Representatives from a variety of labour unions turned out in force on Friday outside the Halifax offices of The Chronicle Herald to participate in a "solidarity barbecue" for newsroom workers who were forced out on strike more than 500 days ago. (Foundry Photography / CFU / UNIFOR) www.facebook.com/foundryphotography

By JOHN McCRACKEN

With a second mandate for Stephen McNeil and Nova Scotia Liberal Party comes a new cabinet and, importantly, a new labour minister, Labi Kousoulis.

After three-and-a-half years of labour turmoil — including the first teachers' strike in the province's history — it's not an exaggeration to say we're at a delicate crossroads in our province's history.

Common sense would suggest our downsized majority government has an opportunity to mend some fences and, frankly, put our province's fragile economy on a more stable footing.

So surely a strike at the province's largest daily newspaper, The Chronicle Herald, that has lasted more than 500 days, provides just such an opportunity. It is painfully clear that all traditional methods have been exhausted at this point in the work stoppage.

In fact, this dispute is a textbook case for the province's Industrial Inquiry Commission.

This provision in the Trade Union Act (TUA) is ideally suited to end such protracted disputes. Here's a brief description from the Labour Department's dispute resolution processes under the TUA:

Industrial Inquiry Commission:

"The Minister has the discretion to appoint Industrial Inquiry Commissions. Historically, it has been rarely used. The Commission has broad powers to investigate and recommend solutions, but it does not have the authority to make a binding decision upon the union and the employer. Its role ends with recommendations to the Minister. This is the final option available to the Minister under the Trade Union Act and as a result, if it fails, there is no 'next step'."

I would strongly suggest that the time is now for the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour and the Nova Scotia NDP to focus their collective energies on pushing our government to intervene in this dreadful work stoppage.

John McCracken is the recently retired CUPE Atlantic communications representative.

 



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