The head of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest union has attacked the provincial government for allowing a support workers' strike to drag on, despite a new projection of a budget surplus.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees said "a mere fraction" of a $12.3-million surplus announced this week would settle a strike involving support workers in the Burin-Marystown area.
"It is indefensible that government would keep 14 women earning little more than $10 an hour on the street over pennies while they sit on a $12-million surplus," NAPE president Carol Furlong said in a statement.
The workers, who are employed by the Burin-Marystown Community Training Employment Board, have been on strike since November 2009. They worked with developmentally delayed adults in a job-placement program.
Finance Minister Tom Marshall said the surplus cannot be earmarked for special funds. Government has consistently refused to step in and end the strike, arguing that it is not the employer.
"Contrary to [Marshall's] public comments that government couldn't afford the raise, clearly this strike is not about money," Furlong said. "It appears the strike is about the lack of value government places on services to the disabled."