About 20 Nova Scotia General Employees Union members and deputy sheriffs held a rally outside Halifax provincial court yesterday to protest against proposed changes to sheriffs’ hours.

The rally came a day before NSGEU president Joan Jessome meets with the province to discuss proposed changes in sheriff staffing.

Jessome said she doesn’t know what the outcome of the talks will be, but she hopes the province will agree to a practice she called “smoothing” — where employees have a set number of workdays within an extended time period, with flexibility from week to week as to how many days they work.

Under such a system, sheriffs could be guaranteed four days a week, work five, and work only three the following week to balance their hours.

“Over a two-week period, they’ve worked their (guaranteed hours) or it could be spread over a four-week period,” she said.

That is one possible way of allaying the Department of Justice’s concerns about ebb and flow in the demand for deputy sheriffs.

Justice Minister Ross Landry told reporters last week the number of sheriffs required on any given day depends on the daily risk assessment at individual courts.