by Bruce Wark
The president of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union (NSGEU) is expressing chagrin over the NDP plan to cut 10 percent of the civil service over the next four years.
“We certainly did not expect to be facing this kind of job loss with an NDP government,” Joan Jessome said Monday night. “Members already know what their workload is like and they’ll be wondering how they’re going to do the same work with a thousand less people.”
Jessome was reacting to an e-mail from Peggy Mahon, the party’s president. It assures NDP supporters that the reduction of more than 1,000 civil service positions, to be announced in Tuesday’s budget, will be done through attrition and voluntary departures, not layoffs. Mahon said the job cuts would save about $65 million.
Jessome, whose NSGEU represents 7,600 civil servants, said the union is determined to fight for stronger job security provisions during the latest round of bargaining, which began in February.
“The first thing we want to do is protect our members,” Jessome said, “so that nobody involuntarily goes out the door.” She added that the union is pushing for the retraining of employees whose jobs are cut as the government trims programs.
“I can tell you right off, if we don’t get that at the table, there will be an all-and-all-out fight with this government...That’s going to be the measurement of whether this is a labour-friendly government or not, whether they’re going to treat people right.”
Mahon’s e-mail notes that the government expects more than 2,000 civil servants to retire over the next four years. “A 10% reduction should not require a hiring freeze, but rather will require government to reduce the number of people hired to replace those who retire.” The e-mail adds that the government will pursue a three-pronged strategy to balance its books — cutting provincial spending, promoting economic growth and raising taxes.