A court hearing Friday could decide whether thousands of New Brunswick nursing home workers can strike.
Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees voted overwhelmingly last week in favour a strike mandate and served strike notice early Saturday. Hours later, the province received a 10-day stay of a labour board decision.
The court order prevented union members from striking.
Several court applications will be heard by a Court of Queen's Bench judge in Fredericton. The New Brunswick government wants the stay extended until a judicial review of the December 2018 labour board decision is complete. It's not clear how long that could take. The decision called a law deeming the nursing home workers an essential service unconstitutional.
The union is seeking to have a judge rescind the interim stay, a move that would allow its members to strike.
The union has decried the interim stay, which was granted without a lawyer present for the hearing.
"What that did is to strip away the constitutional right for workers to strike," Sandy Harding, a regional director for the union, said at a news conference Thursday.Dorothy Shephard, the province's minister of social development, has said her job is to protect nursing home residents.
"I have to use every tool available in my toolbox in order to ensure that we're going down the right road," she said earlier. "I believe this is an essential service." On Thursday, the sides announced a halt in contract negotiations. The union rejected what the province and New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes called an "enhanced offer," saying it wasn't different from an offer rejected last year.
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