April 9, 2009
Nurses Union Rejection of Extremely Generous
Including 31% and 27% Pay Increases Disappointing
The Provincial Government is deeply disappointed that the Leader of
the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses� Union is recommending the
rejection of government�s lucrative and generous offer, which would have
avoided a province-wide strike and negatively impacted patients. The
province made substantial improvements to the original offer to nurses,
for a total package worth an additional $70 million to the province�s
approximately 5,000 nurses.
"From day one in this lengthy process, union leadership has stated
that pay and recruitment and retention are priority areas of concern and
we have offered an extremely generous package to address those issues,"
said the Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and
Labrador. "Our offer would see new nurses receive 31 per cent higher
salaries than they receive today over the contract, and senior nurses a
27 per cent pay increase. Today, there are reports that the Canadian
jobless rate has not been at these levels since the early 1980s, with
more than 350,000 job losses since 2008. Across the country there are
wage freezes, lay offs and minimal pay increases. In this economic
climate, we are at a total loss to understand the rationale behind the
union�s rejection of this extremely generous offer."
The offer currently on the table for nurses would see a new nurse
move from making $45,792/year to making $60,001/year; and senior nurses
would move from making $58,511/year to making $74,295/year. The
province�s offer also included substantial increases to stand-by and
shift differential rates paid to nurses. These improvements to the
collective agreement would also go a long way toward improving
recruitment and retention of the province�s nurses.
"Our offer would see Newfoundland and Labrador nurses rank first and
second east of Ontario in terms of maximum and starting salaries after
four years and second in Atlantic Canada in terms of shift differentials
and standby," said the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Finance
and President of Treasury Board. "We have proven with this offer that
our government values our nurses and we have listened to their concerns.
The union has proven with their rejection that they are intent on a
strike. This is most unfortunate and clearly not in the best interests
of patients or the health care system."
The minister added that government now has no choice but to proceed
expeditiously with plans to deal with the impending strike, should
nurses reject this offer, which is government�s final offer.
"In any negotiation, there is give and take," added Premier Williams.
"And in this negotiation government gave a considerable amount while the
union kept moving the target. On issues like the market modifier, we
simply must as an employer have the ability to address hard to fill
positions. This is especially crucial in our province with a vast
geography and essential to ensuring people in every part of the province
have good medical care."
Minister Kennedy also noted that the extended earnings loss (EEL) is
an issue that was accepted by unions representing more than 30,000
workers and it should be acceptable to nurses as well. "We are not
trying to disadvantage nurses in anyway, and I hope that nurses
recognize that this issue impacts very few people and that new EEL
provisions only impact an individual after a lengthy process that could
take up to five years or more," said Minister Kennedy. "Given the
generous package we are offering, this is a fair and a reasonable
position. We can do no more than we have done in these precarious
economic times to make our nurses competitive."
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