The Nova Scotia government extended an 11th hour olive branch to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) today in an effort to avert a strike by 7,000 health care and education workers, who say they are ready and waiting to walk off the job come Monday. Negotiations broke down in late November, with the government refusing to offer higher than a 1% wage raise, and the union refusing to ask for less than 2.9%. However, the government olive branch seems to have worked, at least in part. A meeting with hospital workers has been scheduled for Friday, and one with education workers slated for Sunday. If neither can come to an agreement by Monday, 264 schools and 33 hospitals could be affected, with emergency room closings and patients diverted to the already-overburdened Queen Elizabeth II hospital in Halifax.