McNeil denies equal pay for all NS LPNs

NSGEU Licensed Practical Nurses

STEPHEN McNEIL HAS NO USE FOR EQUALITY. Not when it means paying all Licensed Professional Nurses (LPN) in Nova Scotia a fair salary. Five unions have launched a major campaign to change that.

The unions want the Nova Scotia premier to do the right thing and extend an award made to LPNs working for the former Capital District Health Authority to all 4000 LPNs in Nova Scotia.

The award calls for a 12% pay increase, amounting to $3/hour.

Five-union common front

All five unions representing LPNs in Nova Scotia have mounted a joint letter-writing and public awareness campaign to unify their members and gain support for nurses.

“So what we’re asking is for everybody to be paid the same wage across the province,” Jason MacLean, president of the NSGEU told reporters at a media conference held to announce the five-union campaign.

When a reporter reminded MacLean the McNeil government has been averse to arbitration, and to unions in general, MacLean replied: “Yeah, well, I’d go on record to say that the McNeil government has been adverse to dealing with anybody that has their own thought, but that would be unprofessional.”

The award was specifically limited to LPNs represented by NSGEU working for the former Capital District Health Authority. All other LPNs in NS are excluded, including those represented by NSGEU in other workplaces, as well as those represented by the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Service Employees International Union and Unifor.

The award was the result of a clause unique to the NSGEU contract that allowed for a successful challenge that LPNs were doing work above their pay grade and deserved to be reclassified.

“I’ve been a licensed practical nurse for 21 years,” said Nan McFadgen, president of CUPE Nova Scotia. “I can tell you that the scope of our work has expanded dramatically. Today, we’re working in emergency rooms, operating rooms, hemodialysis, cancer care clinics, mental health and addiction, correctional services, and knocking on your door to provide essential in-home nursing care.”

‘A callous message'

“It took six years and an arbitrator for us to resolve this matter. Asking thousands of nurses to wait potentially for many more years for equal pay sends a callous message,” says MacLean.

Cathy Retieefe, president of SEIU Local 2 says the timing of the premier’s refusal “could not be worse” considering how her members and all frontline health care workers put themselves at risk every day to fight Covid-19.

“A second wave of COVID-19 could have a devastating impact on long term care as we’ve seen play out in other provinces and here at home. Paying nurses different wages to do the same work, especially during a pandemic, is a needless distraction. Our efforts and priorities should be on keeping everyone safe, not on the fundamental pursuit of equal wages for equal work.”

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