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HALIFAX – Contract talks between Halifax Water and its two groups of unionized employees have broken off, and both sides have moved one step closer to a possible work stoppage.

CUPE Local 1431 represents 110 inside workers with the utility, while Local 227 represents some 235 outside workers.

Wages and pensions continue to be the stumbling blocks in bargaining. These are the same two issues that prompted both groups to vote in favour of strike action in December 2014.

CUPE says it wanted to keep negotiating but the employer pulled the plug and asked the Conciliation Officer to file their report, which is expected to happen later this month. Once that happens, both sides will be in a legal strike or lockout position 14 days after the Minister of Labour receives that report.