Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Revisiting the Government's wage restraint policy

Lately I've been hearing a lot of questions about the impacts to Local 37 members of the New Brunswick Government's wage restraint policy. Although we have already posted some information about this on our website and I've written a previous blog entry about it, it's worth covering again.

To recap, the government announced a wage restraint policy that affects employees in all parts of the public service. Government is saying this action is necessary because of a projected deficit in their revenue, caused by the economic downturn and also a projected shortfall in the public service pension fund.

The government has said that all existing collective agreements will be honoured, however as existing contracts expire they will negotiate new two-year collective agreements. Under the new negotiating mandate, the new contracts will have a wage freeze, with no increases in wages for a two-year period. This will affect all employees in the public service, and the wage freeze has already started for non-union and management employees.

To be clear, I have been told that Local 37 members will receive all the scheduled increases which have been negotiated in the existing collective agreements. It is business as usual until the current contracts expire.

In addition, the government has said this policy will not affect step increases or progressions through a classification, (for example if someone were at step “c” they would still go to step “d”) and it will not affect the normal reclassification or promotion process.

The first Local 37 contract affected by this will be the Nuclear Contract in place for employees at Point Lepreau, which expires at the end of 2010.

Although I can’t predict exactly what will happen at negotiations, we will go to the table to bargain for each of our bargaining units when their contracts expire, and I’m sure we will be able to make gains. There are lot’s of other issues that can be discussed - vacation, RRSPs, paid family leave, overtime rates, etc., and in reality, some of those are pretty important to members.

Obviously, I'm not happy about any of this, however I do know that there are some really serious issues impacting the province, and we could be in far worse shape. At least this is happening at a time when the current yearly rate of inflation for the province is 0%.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about this,please feel free to contact the union office.

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