Nfld. & Labrador

Rein in fantasies of massive wage hikes: Marshall

Civil servants with dreams of double-digit wage increases are going to be disappointed, Newfoundland and Labrador's finance minister says.

Civil servants with dreams of double-digit wage increases are going to be disappointed, Newfoundland and Labrador's finance minister says.

With the province's surplus expected to be far over the $261 million projected in April, speculation has been mounting among public servants that a large wage hike is in order.

But Tom Marshall said that while public employees will get a healthy raise, the government will not break the bank.

"The double-digit numbers are in my view completely unrealistic and are not sustainable," he said.

"Expectations have to be reasonable."

On the campaign trail leading tohis landslide win in the Oct. 9 provincial election, Premier Danny Williams pledged to reward civil servants in their next contract.

However, Williams has shied away from even suggesting what he has in mind, saying such talk should be restricted to the bargaining table.

Carol Furlong, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Private and Public Employees, said some of her members do indeed have high expectations about the next contract.

"And when I talk about high, I talk about figures that even in the best of times you'd have difficulty trying to achieve," Furlong said Tuesday.

NAPE members and other public servants have been through tough times, and for a long time. Since the early 1990s, they have endured wage rollbacks, freezes and concessions, sprinkled with intermittent gains.

During his first term as premier, Williams squared off against NAPE and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, culminating in a month-long strike that ended with civil servants legislated back to work, with a two-year wage freeze.

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