N.S. teachers’ union ponders how to restore gains taken by unconstitutional law

HALIFAX – The union representing Nova Scotia teachers is considering options to restore the losses its members incurred because of an unconstitutional law that imposed a labour contract on them in 2017.

The law passed by the former Liberal government five years ago was struck down Tuesday by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, with Justice John Keith commenting that Bill 75 violated good-faith collective bargaining “and was terribly wrong.”

Paul Wozney, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, says it’s complicated to undo the actions of the Stephen McNeil government.

The Supreme Court decision noted that when the bill passed, the union lost key provisions it had negotiated, including two days of professional leave and the creation of a labour-management council that would provide for arbitration if disputes over working conditions couldn’t be resolved.

The imposed contract set wage increases to three per cent over four years and wound down a long-term service award, which had allowed teachers to accrue up to one per cent of their salary each year toward a lump-sum payment at the end of their careers.

Wozney says some of the damage caused by the province’s actions, particularly the restrictions on the ability to strike, have been erased by the court decision.

However, he says the contractual losses of teachers remain unresolved.

He says the union’s options include appealing the Supreme Court decision to seek more remedies, or attempting to persuade the Progressive Conservative government


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