Nfld. & Labrador

Demand for 24 per cent raise rebuffed, nurses seek conciliation

The Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses' Union said Tuesday it is seeking conciliation to resolve a bargaining stalemate with the provincial government.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses' Union said Tuesday it is seeking conciliation to resolve a bargaining stalemate with the provincial government.

Union president Debbie Forward said negotiators are far apart.

The last monetary offer from government and employers "does nothing to address recruitment and retention issues or improve the state of the provincial health-care system," Forward said in a statement.

The union said its opening wage proposal included 12 per cent raises for each of two years. The union also wants to drop a step at the bottom of the pay scale, to help recruit younger nurses, and to add a pay step at the top of its scale, to keep older ones.

The government-employer offer amounted to 15 per cent over four years, Forward said, with a wage package of a six per cent increase in the first year, and three per cent over the subsequent three years.

"In the face of a $1-billion surplus, it is business as usual for this government," Forward said.

The provincial government said last fall that, largely because of high oil prices, it is expecting to finish the current fiscal year with a surplus of about $881 million.

Forward also said her union's membership is determined not to accept a contract that will last four years.

The current contract expires on June 30.

Forward said Treasury Board has been told that an official request for conciliation will be sent within days to Labour Minister Shawn Skinner.