15 per cent offer won't fly, union warns Williams
The union representing most Newfoundland and Labrador civil servants is telling Premier Danny Williams to count higher at the bargaining table.
"Wages is the No. 1 priority," said Carol Furlong, the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees.
"Let's put it this way — it's our priority issue. No doubt about that."
NAPE, which recently started the bargaining process toward a new master agreement, has not actually been given a money offer from the Treasury Board, but the union is expecting to be offered what's been presented to the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses' Union.
That union called for conciliation while rebuffing a government offer of 15 per cent over four years. Williams has said the province cannot afford the nurses' demands, which include a 24 per cent hike over two years, plus raises on wage floors and ceilings, to improve recruitment and retention.
Furlong would not reveal what NAPE has in mind, but said, while smiling, "Maybe something greater than 15 per cent over four years."
NAPE members were legislated back to work in 2004, after effectively losing a one-month strike waged in concert with the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
The imposed contract amounted to just six per cent over four years.
To lay the groundwork for new contract talks — which are happening in a vastly different financial climate for the government, now awash in an oil-fuelled surplus — NAPE has begun a marketing campaign to make its case on wages.
"This is about recognizing the value of public services and the people who provide them," a TV advertisement says.
"Pay NAPE members what they deserve. We've paid the price. Now it's our turn — our time."
About 15,000 NAPE members work for the Newfoundland and Labrador government and its affiliate boards and agencies.