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More layoffs come to light as contract talks between city of Prince George and unions break down

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More layoffs have come to light at the city of Prince George. In September, two managers in the city's communications department were let go. Now the union says three of its members were given layoff notices at the same time. All three are in the city's administration department.

News of these latest layoffs come as mediated contract talks between the city and its unions have been called off. On Tuesday, Prince George superintendent of Operations Bill Gaal said the problem areas are wages and benefits."The city faces financial challenges and a need to control costs. Increased taxpayer expectations for services and the high cost of fixing and maintaining aging facilities and infrastructure have placed heavy demands on the city budget."

A union spokesperson, however, says the sticking point is job security.

"The trust issue has been broken," says Janet Bigelow, president of CUPE Local 1048 representing inside workers. She cites nine layoffs and the elimination of the city's environment division in January 2012, followed by one more layoff later that year and now these latest cuts. She also says the city is trying to eliminate language focused on job security and hours of work in the collective agreement. "We're not willing to look at either of those without assurances that those would stay there."

In September, union members voted 93 percent in favour of striking. Next week, the city and the union will decide which city services are deemed essential services. Bigelow won't speculate on what, if any, job action will be taken now that talks have been called off.

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