New Brunswick

Moncton firefighters get 16% pay boost through arbitration

Firefighters in Moncton have been given a 16 per cent wage increase in a new four-year contract that expires next year.

City official says high pay increases are "getting out of hand" and calls for change in legislation

Firefighters in Moncton have been given a 16 per cent wage increase in a new four-year contract that expires next year.

The decision by an arbitration board is binding on the parties.

The new contract settled through abitration awards 110 Moncton firefighters with a 16 per cent pay increase over four years. (CBC)
The new contract between the City of Moncton and International Association of Fire Fighters Local 999 will see the firefighters receive retroactive increases of 4.25 per cent to Jan. 1, 2012, 4 per cent for both 2013 and 2014 and a 3.75 per cent increase for 2015.

The contract takes an annual pay of a first-class firefighter from $67,007 under the former contract to $78,400 in the final year of the new contract.

The pay figures do not include overtime, service pay or statutory holiday pay.

The union represents 110 firefighters in fire operations, fire prevention and training divisions.

Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc said the financial impact of the new deal will put stress on the city budget.

"We value our firefighters and the work they do," said LeBlanc. "However, this decision puts significant additional strain on the city's financial situation that will influence other contract bargaining in the province."

Moncton city manager Jacques Dubé stated "The continued high wage settlements reached through interest arbitration are getting out of hand. This process is undermining the bargaining process and it is time that new legislated guidelines be adopted so that firefighters and taxpayers are being treated fairly.

"The Industrial Relations Act provides arbitrators the freedom to impose such decisions with no regard for the economic circumstances of our cities and province," said Dubé. "We want assurances that they (unions) receive fair wage settlements according to what the arbitration process was originally intended to do, which is to mirror collective bargaining.

"Arbitration Boards have become the bargaining forum of choice for firefighters and there is currently no incentive to do otherwise."

Four of the last five contracts between Moncton and its firefighters have been settled through arbitration.

Contract disputes involving the cities of Fredericton and Saint John and their firefighters have also had to proceed to interest arbitration.

The Cities of New Brunswick Association is advocating for the Industrial Relations Act to be changed as it pertains to arbitration and are analyzing what revisions should be recommended.