Niagara-on-the-Lake A Niagara-based branch of the Conference Board of Canada that teaches management courses on labour negotiations, resolving differences, and reaching mutually acceptable agreements, is forgetting to take its own advice on conflict resolution and avoiding a labour dispute, say employees of the not-for-profit agency who have been forced to take strike action today.
Despite wage settlements in the public sector averaging over 3 per cent, negotiators for the Niagara Institute, an arm of the Ottawa-based Conference Board of Canada, tabled a miserly 1.3 per cent wage increase for its own employees. The wage offer is based on what they say is the Conference Board of Canadas economic forecast for the coming year.
However, in a Conference Board economic outlook released earlier this spring, national economic growth was forecast at 2.8 per cent for 2004, and 3.1 per cent for 2005. At the end of May, the Royal Bank Financial Group forecast economic growth for Ontario of 2.5 per cent in 2004, and 3.5 per cent in 2005. High gasoline and hydro prices also spiked the inflation rate to 1.8 per cent in April.
Any way you slice it, the Conference Board negotiators are telling us that we dont deserve a wage increase like other workers in the public sector. When you factor in inflation, they are, in fact, offering staff a wage rollback. And to tie wage increases directly to their economic forecast that keeps changing, is just ludicrous, says Steve Leavitt, the president of Local 1287 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). CUPE represents 14 program support, clerical, and purchasing staff at the Institute.
Even though the Conference Board of Canadas economic outlook is often revised during the course of a year, theyve suggested that only their economic forecast is sound. They have the gall to suggest that other financial organizations, like the Royal Bank and Stats Canada, are fast and loose with their numbers, says Leavitt. CUPE has proposed a 2.5 per cent wage increase for the first full year of the contract.
Pickets went up at 9:00 a.m. this morning at the Niagara Institute 526 Regent Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake.
For more information, please contact:
CUPE National Representative
President, CUPE Local 1287