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Fredericton The last three groups of nursing home workers in New Brunswick have accepted a new contract that makes progress on the key issue of workload and improves wages.

The workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees at nursing homes in Fredericton, Riverside-Albert and Saint John, were the last of 35 nursing home locals to ratify the new deal, reached on Sunday just hours after picket lines went up.

Relieving crushing workload pressures was at the top of workers minds across the province and was especially acute at the three homes that remained on strike until today. Workers wanted concrete reassurance that the province was doing more than window dressing on this critical issue.

Votes on the tentative agreement were held across the province Monday, with most members agreeing to return to work Tuesday.

The four-year deal raises wages by 12.5 per cent and has pension and benefit improvements. As part of the deal, the province agreed to undertake a comprehensive study of the workload situation in the provinces nursing homes. In response to CUPE pressure, the province has further clarified its position, pledging that the committee studying workload in the homes will be fully employer-funded, its membership will be half nursing home workers, and its recommendations will begin to be implemented no later than 2002.

The workload crisis still needs to be tackled in a much bigger way. As weve shown this week, we wont back down on this issue. We need more staff. The province and our employers need to realize this is only the beginning of our struggle, said CUPE Representative Gordon Black.

Were going back to work for the sake of our residents and because the province has promised that this is only the first step, said Michel Boudreau, president of the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions. Were putting the government on notice: deal with the workload problem. We need solutions, not temporary band-aids. Our residents deserve better. And we demand it.


For more information:

Gordon Black, (506) 461-4829 (cell)

Karin Jordan (613) 237-1590 ext. 250