For the first time, the province’s premier marched with hundreds of other Nova Scotians through the streets and stepped up to the podium at the annual Labour Day rally, held yesterday in Halifax.
“As many of you know, this is the first time I’ve been here to speak as premier, but this is not the first time that I have been here,” NDP Premier Darrell Dexter told those gathered on the Central Common, who responded with enthusiastic cheers and claps.
Dexter went on to say the Nova Scotia government is forming “a new relationship” with the province’s unions, emphasizing his party’s “faith in free and fair collective bargaining.”
While speaking with reporters afterwards, Dexter recognized that collective bargaining will become more difficult, especially considering the current state of the economy.
But he wouldn’t comment on whether his NDP government will have to soon say “no” to unionized workers, or on how tough negotiations could potentially affect his party’s popularity.
The first post-election poll shows half of all Nova Scotians surveyed are satisfied with how the new provincial government has performed so far. The New Democrats were elected into power this past June.
“We know that there will be stumbles along the way,” Dexter said. “But we still have to come to the table and negotiate with the employees of the province.”
Rick Clarke, president of umbrella organization the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, told reporters he’s “not overly concerned” about how negotiations could unfold.
“It’s like a family,” he said of the importance of working with government. “I’ve been married for 37 years and we’ve had differences … (but) we’ve worked them out.”
Focus on economic crisis
More than 400 people, from unions across the province and including politicians from all three government levels, participated in yesterday’s Labour Day festivities. The event focused on the economic crisis, calling for improved employment insurance, better pension protection and job creation.