Nfld. & Labrador

NAPE votes to accept province's deal to extend contracts

Members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees have voted to accept the provincial government's two-year extension to their contracts.

Finance minister says public service down 900 jobs in 5 years through focus on attrition

Jerry Earle is the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, whose members just voted in favour of extending their contract with the provincial government for two years. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees have voted to accept the provincial government's two-year extension to their contracts. 

The union had recommended members take the deal, which includes a four per cent wage increase over 18 months, and voting took place online and by phone over the last week. 

NAPE president Jerry Earle said Tuesday its experts supportive the deal because it offered the security of no pending job action or layoffs, and a raise in the current economy. 

"We know what's happening in this province right now, we realize, yes, that members have been through a very difficult time, there's a number of challenges in this province," he said.

Correctional officers vote against

NAPE said overall, 78 per cent of its members voted in favour of the deal, with 15 of its 16 bargaining units supporting it. An independent third party, Deloitte Canada, monitored the ratification vote process and confirmed the results for the union. 

Only correctional officers did not vote in support of the extension, and NAPE said it would meet with their bargaining team to address their concerns and figure out the next steps.

Earle said it may not be a monetary issue, as they are treated differently under the legislation, as correctional officers cannot strike or be locked out, while "even in health care you can withdraw your services."

Finance Minister Tom Osborne says government remains focused on cutting the public sector through attrition, not layoffs. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Finance Minister Tom Osborne said the government is ready to discuss correctional officers' concerns when the time comes.

Focus on attrition

NAPE represents workers in various sectors of the public service, including health care and education.

Over the last five years, a number of its retiring members have not been replaced. Osborne said core government is down 900 positions from "well over 9,000 individuals" in 2015. But that doesn't include agencies, boards and commissions, in which he'd like to see reductions as well. 

He said that brings government down to 2005 employment numbers, and attrition is best, given the fact layoffs are slow due to the bumping process.

"By the time you actually get the person out the door, you've disrupted the delivery of public service, you've created uncertainty in the economy, and the person that's out the door is the youngest of our public servants," he said.

"They take with them their family — their spouses, their children — and they leave the province. And we've seen that previously." 

CUPE members hold out

The announcement comes after the Canadian Union of Public Employees said last week it advised workers not to accept the province's deal — which was the same overall for both unions whose members work side by side — and asked to go to the bargaining table. 

CUPE has concerns over changes to pensions, but NAPE told its workers the changes reflect federal government changes to the Canadian Pension Plan and do not affect its bargaining. 

"Instead of treating these savings as general revenue, they will be passed along to members as part of the salary increase," said Earle in a statement to NAPE members. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Terry Roberts

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