When dealing with government at any level and any political stripe, it all comes down to a numbers game.
Specifically, how much is it going to cost and how many votes can be generated by spending those dollars?
The Burin-Marystown Employment Board’s 15 support workers have been on strike for 11 months, trying to negotiate a new contract. They’re negotiating with the provincial government, but they’re not public service employees – according to the government.
The union representing the workers, NAPE, claims it only want the 21 per cent pay raise over four years other government employees have received. However the government, and just last week Premier Danny Williams confirmed, has suggested those financial demands are about double that.
Mr. Williams said it would be unfair to accede to the union’s stand for these 15 workers, while all other government employees have settled for the government offer.
The union is claiming the Premier has it all wrong and all they’re asking for is the 21 per cent, but which the union said hasn’t been put on the bargaining table.
There are rumours this job action entails more than wage demands. Other agencies across the province, offering similar services, have signed agreements this year with their employees.
The government is not relenting basically because it involves only 15 employees. However, there are many more affected – the board’s clients and their families; students involved in the breakfast program at Sacred Heart Academy in Marystown (First Venture Cafeteria) and all last year the College of the North Atlantic staff and students at the Burin Campus, where a client and support worker were involved in janitorial duties.
The college students protested about their schooling conditions but didn’t get very far. And now the parents, and other supporters, of Sacred Heart students are protesting in the hope the government and union can settle this dispute at the bargaining table.
First it was 15 workers and clients, along with their families; then it was some 400-500 CNA students and now its 550 elementary students and their relatives and friends.
How high does the number have to reach before government and union officials realize this inane job action is ludicrous for everyone?