The Newfoundland and Labrador government, which stopped recruiting this winter and eliminated 1,200 positions in its March budget, has now lifted its hiring freeze.

"We indicated that the hiring freeze would be temporary. We have to get on with the business of running government," Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy said Monday.

Kennedy said government has started hiring again because vacant positions within government need to be filled, and those jobs are different than the positions that were cut.

"Although there were positions eliminated in the budget, they were positions that could be eliminated, that we felt were no longer necessary, as opposed to these positions now," Kennedy said. "Some of them may be necessary to the functioning of the department."

Freeze lifted as layoffs wind down

The hiring freeze was lifted on Monday, just as the layoffs and bumping process for hundreds of workers begins to wind down.

But union representatives said more than 80 grievances related to the layoff process still need to be dealt with, and that process could take another month and trigger more grievances. 

"Why didn't we know what jobs were available, what was possible. Is there something there that in actual fact somebody who's gone could have fit into?" asked NDP Leader Lorraine Michael.

"All I would say to people is that if you've been laid off, you know, ignore that pink slip right now and start applying for some of those jobs that have been lifted by this hiring freeze," said Liberal Leader Dwight Ball.

Recall clauses could apply

The government said some of the laid-off employees may fall under a recall clause in their collective agreement, and could be qualified to fill some of the vacant positions.

"It's quite possible that some of the people who were laid off could be people who could now apply and get the jobs that are being filled," said Kennedy.

He added that the government has a new, strict hiring policy, and will only fill jobs that are crucial.