Moncton firefighters have been handed an 11.88-per-cent wage increase in a new four-year agreement that the city said it would not have "voluntarily" signed.
Details about the new collective agreement between the IAFF Local 999 and the city were announced at a special council meeting on Monday morning.
The contract takes an annual pay of a first-class firefighter to $88,124 from $78,400 in the final year of the deal.
Those figures do not include overtime, service pay or statutory holiday pay.
Deputy fire chief Don McCabe said the deal was the result of hard work.
"The contract with Local 999 had ended on Dec. 31, 2015, so we had been in talks informally since then until now it has been ratified," he said.
Mayor George LeBlanc said the last two collective agreements weren't reached through collective bargaining and were sent to arbitration.
LeBlanc said this has led to settlements that "we, as council, would not have voluntarily agreed to."
McCabe admitted arbitration can be costly.
"We avoided arbitration this time which is good, because arbitration is a very expensive process so when you can avoid it, it's good to negotiate. It's good for relationships as well," he said.
The mayor said council was advised to avoid the arbitration process this time because the outcome "would likely have been the same or worse."
No strike or lockout rights
Under New Brunswick legislation, firefighters do not have strike or lockout rights.
When a collective agreement can't be negotiated, it goes to a third party through interest arbitration.
According to the city, this agreement is similar to a wage settlement negotiated by the City of Fredericton and its firefighters in 2015.
McCabe said the union was pleased with that.
"It's a settlement that's comparable to other cities in the province of New Brunswick, so we're happy with what was settled."
Jacques Dubé, the city manager in Moncton, said they expected a similar result.
"We knew our outcome would be the same or worse if we went through the costly arbitration process," he said.
"While this negotiated settlement is the best outcome for Moncton under the circumstances, it remains undesirable and is inconsistent with fair settlements reached with other bargaining groups."
In a release, the city says it maintains the continued high wage settlements reached through arbitration are "out of hand."
The Cities of New Brunswick Association has been advocating a change to the Industrial Relations Act as it pertains to arbitration.
The province has recently announced its intent to change the rules regarding interest arbitration.