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Nova Scotia faces a winter of labour discontent of its own making

Last week, Nova Scotia’s 9,000 teachers decisively rejected a tentative contract with the provincial government. With their vote, the teachers instantly scuppered Stephen McNeil’s carefully crafted strategy to bring public sector unions to heel before introducing a see-we-did-it balanced budget in advance of the next provincial election.

McNeil had begun strategically with the teachers, traditionally the least militant of the province’s public sector unions. He coupled his deliberately insubstantial wage offer — just three per cent over five years — with the threat of what the teachers’ union called “impending draconian legislation” if teachers turned it down.

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