Corner Brook laid off four fire department employees immediately after the city signed a four-year agreement to increase the firefighters' pay.

On Wednesday, city council signed an agreement that includes a 16 per cent wage increase.

Immediately following the signing, union officials were informed by management that the city will reduce the fire department workforce by four positions.

"It is never pleasant to lay-off employees. However this was the only option available to council if we were to meet the union’s demand for a wage increase and avoid a strike," said Mayor Neville Greeley in a news release Wednesday.

"Throughout the entire bargaining process, union officials were advised that the city could not meet their salary demands without workforce changes. The union was adamant that they would not partake in any discussion relating to staff reductions yet continued to demand a wage increase," according to the release.

Unionized fire department employees with the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 1222, have been without an agreement since December 2010.

In January, the city was confident that a collective agreement with the firefighter’s union had been reached, however, it was rejected by 93 per cent by the Local 1222 membership.

The Corner Brook Fire Department’s 2012 budget is more than $3,500,000 – more than 12 per cent of city’s total budget.

The city’s release said 92 per cent of the Corner Brook fire department’s budget is spent on wages.