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Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy announced a tentative deal Tuesday with the provincial government's largest union. ((CBC))

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has reached a long-range contract with its largest union, the province's finance minister said Tuesday.

Jerome Kennedy said the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees has agreed to the four-year wage template that the government has offered to all of its unionized employees.

If approved, the NAPE deal will see members receive wage hikes of 21.5 per cent, with compounding. The deal includes an eight per cent raise in the first year alone. Raises in the three successive years are worth four per cent each.

The announcement comes on the heels of similar deals reached with the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, the Association of Allied Health Professionals — which represents dietitians, audiologists and many other disciplines — and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

The tentative agreement leaves only the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses' Union as a major bargaining unit that has not yet reached a settlement with the provincial government.

Nurses will start voting next month on whether to give their union a strike mandate.

The Nurses' Union walked away from conciliation with the Treasury Board and four regional health boards, calling the government's offer too weak to address chronic staffing shortages and recruitment problems.

Deal only on table until Dec. 31: minister

Earlier this month, Kennedy warned unions that had not yet settled that the four-year pact was on the table only until Dec. 31. After that point, he said, the government could only guarantee the eight per cent raise in the first year, and that the raises in successive years could be reduced.

NAPE represents more than 19,000 people, most of whom work in Newfoundland and Labrador government departments, agencies and health boards.

The tentative agreement applies to members in NAPE's general service unit, which includes most government office workers, as well as 10 other units.

The units include school boards, hospital support staff, the College of the North Atlantic, the Newfoundland Liquor Corp., and lab and X-ray workers, among others.

"The process has been lengthy but we believe that our perseverance has paid off," NAPE president Carol Furlong said in a statement Tuesday.

NAPE members will vote in January on ratifying the results.

Furlong said details of the agreements will not be released until after members have the opportunity to review the deal and vote on it.