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FREDERICTON CUPE Local 1252 members have ratified a tentative agreement that ends a province-wide hospital strike that began last Friday.
The negotiated deal breaks the 1.5 per cent wage increase pattern that the government has set for all public sector contract negotiations. The 6,000 workers will get an 8 per cent pay raise over four years. Also, an additional 4.5 per cent will be shared among 90 per cent of the members, many of them women in lower paid job classifications.
We are pleased with the breakthrough on 1.5 per cent, said chief negotiator Danny Bernatchez. But hospital support staff wages are a long way from where they should be.
The back-to-work legislation that was passed in an emergency session of the legislature will not become law. But it was seen as a draconian response to the strike that has angered many workers and unions.
Most of our members told us with their votes that they wanted a negotiated settlement rather than one imposed through legislation, Bernatchez said. Many have turned their anger on the governments heavy-headed and unnecessary tactic.
The broader trade union movement hopefully will not accept such intrusions into the legal process of collective bargaining, he added. Many union leaders see the legislation as a blow to one of the key cornerstones of any democracy.
If this legislative threat was designed to help improve Premier Bernard Lords image as a tough politician then it will backfire, Bernatchez said, because it has the potential to cause even more labour unrest in an already unhealthy labour relations climate.
News conference: 1 p.m., Tuesday, March 6, Fredericton Inn
Contact: Danny Bernatchez, CUPE National Representative, (506) 459-2996.