Court of Appeal extends stay on strike by N.B. nursing home workers

The legal back and forth between the New Brunswick government and the nursing home workers union isn’t over just yet.

Justice Raymond French ruled that three judges from the New Brunswick Court of Appeal will hear the provinces case April 17. At the same time, Justice Raymond issued a stay on the strike.

“Nursing home employees are essential for the comfort, safety and security of nursing home residents, and so we’re pleased today that a stay has been awarded,” said Jodi Hall, executive director of the New Brunswick Nursing Home Association.

Earlier this week, Justice Garnett ruled in favour of the nursing home staff. The decision overturned the Court of Queen’s Bench ruling on March 9 that barred more than 4,000 New Brunswick nursing home workers from striking for higher wages and improved working conditions.

“We’re not talking about six-figure salary people here, we’re talking about people that make $25,000 a year, many of them. We’re talking about our most vulnerable, and we’re talking about years and years of not getting a reasonable increase to their wages and their working conditions,” said People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin.

The People’s Alliance and the Green Party are calling on Premier Higgs to bargain with CUPE

Immediately following Justice Garnett’s ruling, the province requested an appeal that was granted by Justice French. If the Court of Appeal upholds Justice Garnett’s ruling, CUPE has the right to strike.

The People’s Alliance and the Green Party are calling on Premier Higgs to bargain with CUPE to end the conflict ensure a strike is avoided.

“They need to get back to the negotiating table to get the binding arbitration and that will be a win for nursing homes residents and their families that are very concerned, a win for the nursing home workers and the government will come out looking like a hero,” said Green Party Leader David Coon.

CUPE agrees with the opposition and would like a neutral third-party to mediate the arbitration.

“We’re asking Higgs to respect and listen to the opposition’s recommendations to take this to a resolution by bringing it to a binding arbitration,” says Sharon Teare the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions President.

Sharon Teare and CUPE council members

In response, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says the province’s negotiating team will sit down with CUPE.

“They’ll be setting up a schedule with the union and our goal is to keep the discussion going and ultimately find a solution,” he said.

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