News / Halifax

Workers protest for wage parity

A small but loud group picketed outside the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority headquarters on Gottingen Street Thursday.

The 33 workers collect rent, process applications for affordable housing and manage the 5,000 affordable housing units in HRM and Hants County.

They want wage parity with their colleagues in the rest of the province, said Joan Jessome, president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU).

"It's a difference of about $1,000 a year (per employee) and it affects 13 of the 33 workers," she said.

"It's such a principal issue that if we don't fight for it now we'll never get it."

These employees joined the union in 2009 and have yet to sign a contract. A 14- day countdown to a strike started April 1 when the conciliator filed a report.

"Strikes cost both sides and we're looking at a cost of government on this strike, to this group of workers, approximately $14,000 to end the strike," Jessome said.

Patricia Lawrence, director of Metro Housing, said there are contingency plans in place to ensure the needs of residents and those looking to access public housing are met during the strike.

Denise Peterson-Rafuse, minister of community services, said she's leaving the negotiations up to the collective bargaining process because she trusts it to work.

"I understand the employer did make another offer, and unfortunately it was not accepted," she said.

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