HALIFAX – The province’s biggest union say the earliest its members will vote on a tentative agreement is in January.
The government issued an ultimatum to the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union to hold a vote on the tentative deal by Monday. However, the union’s president says that won’t happen.
READ MORE: NSGEU lets vote deadline slide, calls government’s bluff
Instead Joan Jessome says her executive will hold 16 meetings with its members across the province over the next five to six weeks. The earliest the 7,600 civil service members will vote is in mid January.
“They don’t like being told what to do and they don’t like ultimatums,” Jessome said.
Government backs down from threat
On Wednesday the government said if a vote didn’t take place by Monday, it would consider rescinding its tentative agreement with the union. Two days later it says there’s no rush for the union to hold a vote.
“We’re certainly very happy that they are going to take it to their membership so yes we are going to wait and see,” Deputy Premier Diana Whalen said.
However, she says the government is still looking at all its options in the bargaining process.
Jessome said the government’s threat and mixed messages on whether it would legislate an agreement created more uncertainty, forcing the union to delay the voting process.
“Our members are requesting more time to decipher what has happened over the last couple of weeks,” she said.
On Thursday, Whalen, softened the government’s stance on a Monday deadline, but didn’t definitively say what the government would do if the union delayed its vote.
READ MORE: Rejection of wage offers to Nova Scotia unions could lead to legislation: Premier
The deal was struck in mid November, and a vote was expected to be done by this weekend. However, Jessome said the playing field has changed since then because the teacher’s union rejected its tentative agreement which had the same wage pattern as the one the NSGEU agreed to.
The Progressive Conservatives say the government’s actions have weakened its position at the bargaining table.
“I still have no idea why the government chose to threaten public servants and teachers this week, particularly since they weren’t going to carry it out,” Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said.