Members with the Canadian Union of Public Employees met in St. John's this weekend to discuss a strategy for upcoming contract negotiations.

The provincial government has already warned public service workers not to expect raises in the next contract.

nl-lucas-wayne-20130216

Wayne Lucas, president of CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador, says the provincial government has been giving conflicting statements about the province's economic situation. (CBC)

However, Wayne Lucas, president of CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador, said those statements are government posturing.

"Our members are suggesting to me that this is all a smoke screen," Lucas said.

"[Government] they should get serious, they should come to the bargaining table, behind closed doors, sit down, and get serious with CUPE to try to achieve a collective agreement."

CUPE and other unions are negotiating with the government at the same time that senior officials have been making dire statements about the province's finances. Last week, Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy said the government could face an extra debt of $4 billion over a few years unless action was taken.

Lucas also said that there have been mixed messages from Permier Kathy Dunderdale about the province's economy.

He said bargaining between the provincial government and the 4,200 CUPE workers in the province has gone on for over a year.