A strike by Nova Scotia Community College workers may now be inevitable, the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union said late Thursday afternoon as she joined about 250 workers and their supporters for a formal protest in front of Province House.
“I’m not feeling positive by any means,” said Alexis Allen. “It’s sad that it has gotten this far.”
The window of opportunity to avert a strike by NSCC’s 930 faculty and support staff is closing rapidly, with workers set to walk off the job Tuesday if no deal is reached. The workers want the same 2.9 per cent wage increase and improvements to medical benefits given to public school teachers last year.
“The government in power now has the purse strings, so we’re looking for this government to resolve this issue,” said Allen.
For its part, the provincial government has shown no signs of backing down.
“Will the province blink over the weekend? I don’t think so,” deputy premier Frank Corbett said following Thursday morning’s cabinet meeting. “Our position remains the same and we hope that the two sides will get back to the table.”
The union has called for binding arbitration, but Corbett said the NDP government won’t agree unless there’s some recognition that the province is financially limited by a $592-million deficit.
Corbett added he hopes that having a strike deadline looming on the horizon will put pressure on both sides to reach an agreement. “These are two very tough-thinking groups that have positions … but as you get closer to a strike date and realize what you have to do, it changes your mindset,” he said.
By the numbers
• The two sides have been bargaining for 16 months, with the most recent talks breaking off two weeks ago.
• A strike would affect 25,000 students at 13 campuses across Nova Scotia.