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CUPE Local 1252 is back at the bargaining table today armed with a 90 per cent strike mandate from its 6,000 members.

There is great, great frustration among our members, said CUPE representative Danny Bernatchez. We expect to have a reasonable offer. Were not going to accept 4.5 per cent.

The government has stuck to its offer of 1.5 per cent a year in an attempt to set a pattern in the public sector. But many groups are unwilling to accept it. The nurses, for example, negotiated a wage adjustment over and above the pattern. Others have as well.

NB hospital workers havent had a substantial raise in 10 years. Now that the members have voted so strongly for a strike, they expect their negotiating team to come back with a much better offer than was in the report.

With 45 per cent of the hospital workforce allowed to strike, the health care system in NB would be brought to a standstill. In fact, some hospital administrators are already complaining publicly that they do not have the staff to function efficiently when there isnt a strike.

CUPE Local 1252s contract expired June 30, 1999. It could be on strike March 2.