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New Brunswicks 65 court stenographers will take a strike vote this Thursday after months of fruitless talks and insulting offers in the wake of promises from Tory Premier Bernard Lord that they would be treated fairly.

They now earn about $29,000 a year while other employees doing similar work but without the added responsibilities earn $40,000. Thats a gap of $11,000 in some cases, putting them a full third behind these other workers and they are the ones working directly with the judges.

The court stenographer plays a crucial role in the judicial system, says Chief Justice David Smith. Unfortunately, it appears that the value placed on these people is not reflected in their remuneration. Smith adds that they are the lowest paid in the Maritimes even though their duties are more extensive and more onerous than those in other provinces.

Yet the premier has failed to come to the rescue. His inaction is viewed by many as a betrayal not only of these valued women workers but also as an insult to the judicial system itself.