The Newfoundland Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) and the provincial government have finally, and yes finally, reached a new working agreement for 15 employees of the Burin-Marystown Community Training Employment Board.
It’s good news and a great relief for the employees and their clients, with another Christmas on their doorstep.
And not to rain on anyone’s parade but everyone knows this took too long to settle – 377 days, touted as the longest public sector strike in this province and perhaps all of Canada.
In some perverted maneuver the provincial government negotiated on behalf of the board although Finance Minister Tom Marshall insisted the government was not the employer of these 15 workers, even though the Newfoundland Treasury cut their pay cheques.
All other public sector employees were able to achieve the government’s tinplate offer last year of 20 per cent over four years.
NAPE president Carol Furlong revealed the local workers’ agreement is front loaded, and retroactive to Apr. 1, 2008. It will see their wages rise from $10.61 an hour to $14.25 by the end of the deal.
One of the sticking points during the talks now outlines the workers will not receive a classification review, but according to Ms. Furlong a grievance now in progress will in fact mean another increase.
Sounds good, but this fall NAPE sent out a media release boasting it had reached two contract settlements for its members on the west coast – 51 workers at the Bay St. George Community Employment Corporation settling for an increase from $12.51 an hour to $15.19 an hour over the term of the agreement. That contract expires June 2013.
Another 29 workers with the Humber Valley Co-operative Living Corporation in Corner Brook, in their first agreement retroactive to July 1, 2009, obtained annual increases to bring wages to $19.03 an hour in the third year. That collective agreement ends June 2012.
Ms. Furlong said with the Bay St. George group “The services provided by these workers are essential to ensure employees with disabilities can be integrated into the workforce and into society in general.”
And the Corner Brook group provides support services for persons with disabilities in a group home setting.
The Burin-Marystown workers provide workplace support for development-delayed adults.
Equality and fairness has not been achieved for our local workers, and it could stem from the union’s earlier charge government has been discriminating against the 14 women involved.
An almost $5 an hour difference in hourly wages is blatant.
It’s good this inhumane work dispute has been settled, but it’s obvious government has taken advantage of a small group of workers for an objective, which Burin-Placentia West District and indeed the whole Burin Peninsula, may not accept easily.
Perhaps, a word of advice as well. These workers should seek out a new union to represent them.