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New Brunswick finance minister Norm Betts has left CUPE members shocked and dismayed by his press statements after mediation talks failed to end a 10-week-old court stenographers strike.

Once again, Mr. Betts has mislead the public by making statements about our bargaining demands that are not accurate, said Pat Roy, CUPE Local 1840 president. We are on strike for a fair wage adjustment, not 30 or 25 per cent as the finance minister has persisted in telling the media.

We are also shocked that Mr. Betts would say we refused to accept his new offers during mediation, Roy said. In fact there has been no improvement over the original offer of 4.5 per cent over three years or 24-cents a year. Even when the number of years is reduced to two or extended to five, it remains virtually the same increase.

His offer of a classification study is equally upsetting since he has said that he doesnt think NB court stenos have the same qualifications and responsibilities as others in the Maritimes. This was taken as an insult by all the court stenos.

Finally, Roy said her 65 members are at a loss to understand how he can grant an 8 per cent increase to nurses, but refuse to even talk to the stenos about a wage adjustment beyond the 4.5 per cent pattern he has established arbitrarily.

We are on strike for wage fairness and wage parity, Roy said after mediation talks broke off. We are prepared to consider offers from the government that address this problem. We are open to a reasonable wage adjustment proposal from Mr. Betts. So far we have not heard one.