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Nova Scotia Union Tells Nurses To Join Strike

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — The union representing hundreds of Halifax-area nurses urged them to walk off the job illegally and join 2,900 health care workers in a strike set for Wednesday morning.

Joan Jessome, head of the Nova Scotia Government Employees’ Union, made the announcement Tuesday to a chanting crowd of nurses and workers jamming the union’s strike headquarters.

She said the honoring of picket lines by all members of the union won’t end until Premier John Hamm backs away from a bill that outlaws strikes by health workers.

Jessome’s plea for an illegal walkout by nurses prompted the Nova Scotia Labor Relations Board to issue a stern warning.

The board, in a brief release, ordered the union’s executive and leadership to “cease and desist from causing or authorizing an illegal work stoppage.” The board didn’t elaborate on a possible punishment if union leaders don’t comply.

About 2,200 union nurses, who work at nine area hospitals, are in the same union as the health care workers, but have a separate bargaining unit. The earliest nurses could legally strike is July 9.

The health care workers, including physiotherapists, radiologists and lab technicians, were to begin a legal strike early Wednesday.

While the union said it will ensure some nurses remain on the job Wednesday to handle emergency services, Health Minister Jamie Muir said the job action could cripple the city’s health system.

In the past two weeks, the labor unrest has led hospitals to close 412 beds and postpone more than 200 surgeries.

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