We hope you, your families, loved ones and friends are all keeping safe and healthy through these new, and ever-changing times.
Your Local executive has been incredibly active over the last few weeks, not only on a Local level but as a provincial voice, dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact on the Education Sector and you, our members. The focus of our work has been on maintaining not only your Collective Agreement rights, but also ensuring that the health and safety concerns you have been bringing forward are being addressed, and measures to resolve them have been implemented. After much negotiation, your Local executive has negotiated terms and conditions to address the questions and concerns that have come from Education Sector members in regards to health and safety and your work during this pandemic. If you have not seen that negotiated document yet, please contact your Local and ask for a copy. Knowing your rights and having the proper information in order to work safely and remain healthy in this current environment is of the utmost importance.
As our province, loved ones, and neighbours deal with the harsh realities of this current situation, it is important to look at where we in the Education Sector find ourselves. Unlike many of our family, friends and neighbours, who have been laid off or even let go, at this time we are still receiving full pay, while working from home. We need to count ourselves among the very lucky few who know where the next pay cheque is coming from. We find ourselves in this position thanks to the great work your Local executives and CUPE have done behind the scenes on your behalf. While we count ourselves as frontline workers, today other frontline workers, who are essential to providing Health Care, Home Care and Community Services roles, are still at work doing the jobs they have always done, with the same love and conviction. But now they must work with much more diligence and don personal protective equipment to make sure that at the end of the day, once this pandemic has run its course, they have the ability to return to their loved ones at home.
Workers in many classifications have brought to our attention that Employers are asking more and more of us to return to working either in the regular workplace, in the normal capacity, or in some position that may involve a new remote capacity. Your Local and CUPE have been made aware of these circumstances and have raised concerns where we saw them. We strongly urge everyone to bring forward any issues or concerns you may have to your Local executive as promptly as possible, so together we can figure out what this all looks like. As a Union we are committed to finding answers to the questions or concerns you raise.
We have heard from many CUPE members in the School Board Sector that they wish there was something they could do to help out their fellow Nova Scotians, while making sure that they are safe and not doing anything that negatively affects their regular employer or Union. It is because of that desire to help each other that your Local has entered into an agreement, ONLY during this time of Emergency, that lets those who wish to volunteer, be able to work in other sectors and workplaces to help out where help is needed. If you are one of those volunteers, your Collective Agreement, Pension, and Benefits all follow you in whatever workplace you find yourself. In addition, you are guaranteed your regular wage, but if the new workplace/employer pays its workers more in the classification you are assigned to, you will receive the higher wage. You will also receive payment for any mileage you may be out of pocket for travel (additional distance you have to travel).
For those of you who follow the Provincial Update on the website (https://novascotia.cupe.ca/) or CUPE Nova Scotia on social media, you will know there is an urgent need for help with a long-term care home in Halifax, Northwood. The request for assistance can be found here: https://novascotia.cupe.ca/2020/04/19/urgent-recruitment-to-northwood-halifax-covid-19-outbreak-lpn-and-cca/.
We strongly encourage any member who wishes to volunteer to reach out to your Local executive in order to fully understand all your rights and obligations, as well as make sure we, as CUPE, can continue to ensure all the needed protections are in place in order for you to perform any new positions safely. In the future you may find your Employer reaching out to you directly asking if you would like to volunteer to take other roles. We ask that if that should happen you reach out to your Local executive to let them know this is taking place. CUPE has been told that the Locals will be made aware of all such requests. However, we will need you to keep us aware of all such offers so that we can provide you with all the information we may have on these situations so you can make informed decisions.
We want to thank you for your support of your Union through these ever-changing times. We also thank the Local presidents and executives for the amazing amount of work that they have done and continue to do by collaborating on behalf of all Education Sector members.
Together, as always, we will get though these times of uncertainty and we commit to you as a Union that we will be there with you, as you keep us informed of what is happening in your workplaces, to make sure we all move forward as safely and as united as we can.