Representatives of CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador say Minister of Finance Tom Osborne is attempting to recover after dropping the ball in negotiations, landing himself in disputes of his own making.

“The ‘spotlight’ that Minister Osborne referenced yesterday was created by the minister himself,” says Brian Farewell, CUPE national representative. “He negotiated a tentative agreement with another bargaining agent and afterward he reacted without thinking when faced with publicity from the business community.”

The minister then decided to go back to the other bargaining agent and request a “sidebar” letter, confirming the fact that the no-layoff clause would not carry over into any subsequent agreement.

CUPE is not seeking changes to the no-layoff language. We have already agreed to the no-layoff language,” says Farewell. “In addition, we have given the minister a side-bar comfort letter concerning the no-layoff clause.”

The minister, in front of five CUPE bargaining committee agents, confirmed that CUPE’s letter relieved any concerns or anxieties he had concerning the no-layoff clause rolling over into subsequent agreements. He also candidly admitted that he didn’t expect CUPE to agree to the other side-bar letter.

“It is perplexing to CUPE that our sidebar letter is not acceptable. Mr. Osborne is either not understanding the issue or attempting to deceive the public. Neither scenario is acceptable,” says Farewell.

“We will not jeopardize all our efforts made in collective bargaining since we became a voice for workers in this province 55 years ago, says CUPE NL President Wayne Lucas. “Our priority is protecting our members. As it should be.”