March 2, 2017
Engaging in Responsible Discussions
Provincial Government Provides Update on Collective Bargaining
The Provincial Government today provided an update on the status of collective bargaining with the Newfoundland and Labrador Union of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Since November 2016, government has met with 14 NAPE groups and five CUPE groups. While the parties have met multiple times and been able to make progress on some issues, there has been little or no movement on outstanding proposals with financial implications. Government is seeking the assistance of conciliation for six of the NAPE bargaining groups and one of the CUPE bargaining groups in an attempt to find a resolution.
“Our government is trying to engage our public sector unions in a responsible conversation about the future of our province and the serious fiscal situation we face. Regrettably, there has been little or no progress with NAPE and CUPE groups to address the important financial issues that have been raised in this round of bargaining. In light of this, we feel the parties will benefit from the assistance of conciliation in an attempt to seek a resolution to the outstanding issues.”
- The Honourable Cathy Bennett, Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board
Conciliation services are provided in collective bargaining to assist the parties involved reach a collective agreement.
To date, each of the six NAPE groups and one CUPE Group, which include Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC), NAPE Group Homes, Maintenance and Operational Services (MOS), Marine Services (MS), Laboratory and X-Ray (LX), School Boards and CUPE 1860 (Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation) have met with the employer negotiating teams multiple times with little to no progress on the key issues.
A complete set of proposals was tabled at the outset of bargaining, supported by a protocol agreement to ensure the parties were given the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions early in the bargaining process.
Some of the issues the Provincial Government is attempting to discuss with the unions include; wages and premiums, sick leave, severance, group insurance, contracting out and technological change. For further details, please see backgrounder below.
“Government remains committed to a fair approach with our employees. While specific details of government’s proposals will be left with the bargaining teams, today I wanted to identify some of the existing benefits and how we are trying to engage with the unions about these items to explore solutions that will help to address our fiscal situation. We remain hopeful that the unions will be willing to have an open and constructive dialogue.”
- Minister Bennett
The Provincial Government spends $3.8 billion annually on employee salaries and benefits, or 45 per cent of total expenses of $8.5 billion. In addition, there are liabilities associated with employment benefits, which account for approximately $8 billion.
- The Provincial Government provided an update on the status of collective bargaining with the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
- While the parties have met multiple times and been able to make progress on some issues, there has been little or no movement towards agreement on outstanding proposals with financial implications. The Provincial Government is seeking the assistance of conciliation for six of the NAPE bargaining groups and one of the CUPE bargaining groups in an attempt to find a resolution.
- Some of the issues the Provincial Government is engaging the unions on include; wages and premiums, sick leave, severance, group insurance, contracting out and technological change. For further details, please see backgrounder below.
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Director of Communications
Department of Finance/Human Resource Secretariat
The following are some of the issues the Provincial Government is looking to address with NAPE and CUPE through the collective bargaining process:
Wages and Premiums:
- Besides salary increases, public sector workers may also receive step increases, which are related to tenure and reclassifications, which entitle an employee to a higher hourly rate.
- Shift premiums are also found in agreements for employees who work shifts (outside Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or other recognized days shifts). In 2004, shift premiums were $0.31 per hour; today the rate is $2.30 per hour. This is a 642 per cent increase.
- In addition, a weekend premium is paid to employees who work on Saturday or Sunday. In 2004, the rate was $0.26 per hour; the current rate is $2.55 per hour. This is a 881 per cent increase.
- Anyone who works in public service for nine or more consecutive years is entitled to minimum of nine weeks (maximum of 20 weeks) severance pay when they leave the Provincial Government.
- This accounts for over $480 million in liability. (Source: Consolidated Summary Financial Statements, includes unions and management)
- Currently, employees and the Provincial Government share the cost of group insurance, with different cost-sharing arrangements for different groups. Group insurance is a significant component of total employee benefit liabilities.
- The Provincial Government currently spends over $125 million annually on sick leave. (Source: Payroll data from the respective groups – Regional Health Authorities, Core Government, Teachers Payroll, Newfoundland Liquor Corporation and Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation)
- Since 2004, there has been a two-tiered system. Employees hired before 2004 are entitled to 24 sick days per year; remaining employees receive 12 sick days per year.
- Employees are permitted to carry over periods of unused sick leave. There is a utilization cap of 480 days over 20 consecutive years of service for employees hired before 2004, and 240 days over 20 consecutive years for employees hired after.
Contracting Out and Technological Change:
- In most existing collective agreements there are protections for impacted employees so that if government introduces new technology or contracts out a service, it may be required to continue to provide employment for the number of people in the impacted positions prior to the change.
Copies of existing collective agreements can be found at www.exec.gov.nl.ca/exec/hrs/working_with_us/collective_agreements/
2017 03 02 1:10 p.m.