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((Halifax) The union representing Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) civic workers says two days of scheduled contract talks with the municipality broke off abruptly last night, after the employer tabled a series of major concessions.

CUPE Local 108 Representative Larry Power says, Talks broke off at 8:00 p.m. last night (June 4) when it became obvious the city was not moving on several concessions it had tabled when we last met in March.

Local 108 represents 530 outside workers with the Halifax Regional Municipality. Power says talks with HRM began in November, 2000 and moved to conciliation in March. The union held a strike vote on April 9 which resulted in a 90% strike mandate.

The city appears to be saying to its unionized outside workers, that unless they are prepared to accept takeaways on several monetary items - and give up job security language they won in the last round of bargaining - there will not be a negotiated settlement to this dispute, says Power.

The union, for its part, has attempted to address the issue of Seasonal workers by creating a new status of employee but the city says its not good enough. HRM has tabled a wage offer of 5% over three years, which does not even keep up with inflation. Inflation in the Halifax area is currently running at about 2.8% a year.

Says Power, while we are still prepared to meet with HRM to negotiate a settlement, we have a membership meeting scheduled for next Thursday (June 14) and if we dont hear back from them before then, we could very well be headed for a disruption in service.

With the strike mandate we have received from Local 108 members, its only a matter of giving the employer 48 hours notice and we could be into a strike situation. We strongly believe the preferred option is a negotiated settlement; but with these kinds of concessions on the table, we can only conclude that the city is looking for a confrontation, says Power.

This employer knows that CUPE does not negotiate concessions, he adds.

For information:
Larry Power, CUPE National Rep.
(902) 454-6369 (o)
Larry Chisling, President, CUPE Local 108
(902) 454-6369
John McCracken, CUPE Communications Rep.
(902) 455-4180 (o)

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