Premier Kathy Dunderdale's warning of lean times ahead isn't going over well with one Newfoundland and Labrador labour leader.
Carol Furlong, president of NAPE — the province's largest public-sector union — said she was surprised to hear the premier draw lines in the sand even before negotiations begin.
Most public-sector contracts expire this year, but Dunderdale said workers shouldn't get their hopes up.
Furlong acknowledges her members got increases totalling more than 20 per cent in the last round, but the province can't afford to fall behind.
"The only way you're going to keep people in this province, to work here ... the only way you're going to retain your workforce, is to ensure that you're competitive," Furlong said.
She said that means paying public-sector workers the same or more money than they'd make elsewhere.
In a speech to the St. John's Board of Trade on Tuesday, Dunderdale warned the government will run deficits for the next two years.
Dunderdale indicated that everyone — from taxpayers to unions — should prepare for some belt-tightening.