CUPE 4764 members, caseworkers employed by the Community Justice Society (CJS), are set to begin job action on July 30, after sending 48-hour strike notice to the Nova Scotia Minister of Labour and Advanced Education this morning. The strike will leave restorative justice clients and communities without options, and interrupt court dates.
A picket line will begin at 8 a.m. Monday at 1256 Barrington Street, Halifax.
CUPE 4764 has been in negotiations with the employer since December 2017. The union applied for conciliation in June 2018. However, conciliation efforts have failed and on July 26 the membership voted unanimously to reject the employer’s final proposal.
“The main issue is wage parity. The union has identified a pay equity gap between restorative justice caseworkers and probation officers,” says CUPE National Representative Govind Rao. “The restorative justice caseworkers, who are paid about 56 per cent of what probation officers earn for doing similar work and requiring similar qualifications, are looking for 90 per cent of the wages that probation officers are paid.”
CUPE 4764 President Denise Russell points out that “probation officers are overwhelmingly male while restorative justice caseworkers are predominantly female. This is an old story and it’s time that government rewrote it.”
“As well, funding hasn’t changed for us in over 12 years,” adds Russell. “The government has increased our files by 149 per cent with the rollout of the adult restorative justice program and they need to increase our wages and staffing. We had 248 files in 2016 and 617 files in 2017. Something needs to change.”
“Until the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, the sole funder for the restorative justice program, is willing to provide additional funding and address the wage parity issue, we will be taking job action,” states Russell. “We hope Minister of Justice Mark Furey is listening.”
Community Justice Society is a non-profit organization and is currently receives 100 per cent of its funding from the provincial government. The Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Program works with youth (12 to 17 years old) and adults (18 and over) and provides them an alternative avenue from the court system to repair the harm caused by their actions. CJS also delivers other community programs in the Halifax Regional Municipality.