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Nova Scotia Crown Attorneys to walk off job Wednesday

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Crown Attorneys protesting province taking away right to arbitration


Crown prosecutors are walking off the job across Nova Scotia Wednesday in protest of Bill 203 being introduced, taking away their right to arbitration.

There are 102 prosecutors part of the Nova Scotia Crown Attorneys Association across Nova Scotia, including 12 in the Sydney area and two in Port Hawkesbury.

In Sydney a local prosecutor— who wished not to be identified —said locally they will be staging two protests, one in front of Sydney-Whitney Pier MLA Derek Mombourquette’s office at 710 Victoria Road at 8:30 a.m. The prosecutors are also working on obtaining a police escort to walk down Charlotte Street in Sydney at noon.

“Right down the middle of Charlotte Street, that’s what we’re looking to do,” the prosecutor said.

“We’re looking at doing this with the least amount of disruption to the public as possible.”

The prosecutor said disrupting the public is not their intent, their focus is drawing attention to what the government has done with unconstitutional legislation they introduced in the house last week.

“They introduced a bill — under the cover of darkness — that would take away our right for arbitration,” he said.

“That goes against the very core of positive labour relations.”

The association was in collective bargaining with the provincial government, had gone through the negotiating and conciliation stage, and were about ready to get the conciliators report and arbitration, when the government introduced bill 203 in the house.

This squashes current agreement between prosecutors and their employer and gives prosecutors the right to strike but only while providing required and essential services.

The Nova Scotia Branch of the Canadian Bar Association is calling for government to reconsider bill 203.

In a press release the association said in 2016, during the last round of bargaining, crown attorneys agreed to the government's desired wage freezes and wage restraint in return for a framework agreement that would continue the binding arbitration process for 30 years. However, recently as crown attorneys were recently preparing to send their bargaining dispute to arbitration, the government introduced the bill the Crown Attorneys’ Labour Relation Act.

“Crown attorneys are essential to the administration of justice and should have access to a fair and independent process for settling their terms and conditions of work,” said CBA-NS Past President Gail Gatchalian, in the release.

The Public Prosecution Service’s contract expired March 31. The province offered seven per cent increase over four years however the association is asking for a 17 per cent pay increase over the four years.

RELATED: JIM VIBERT: Nova Scotia's sneak attack on Crown attorneys

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