Union could apply for conciliation if negotiations stall, president says
As the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) heads back to the bargaining table this week, its president says they expect to see quick progress or they’ll look for conciliation.
Carol Furlong said Monday that this week is a pivotal time for the negotiations for a collective agreement for 12 bargaining units.
“We’ve reached a point where we’re either going to get a tentative collective agreement, or we’ll have no choice but to apply for conciliation,” she said. “We’ve been in bargaining since last year, and we’ve had meetings with the minister now in the past while to try and get this on track, and where we are now, it’s either make or break. We’re down to the crunch, I believe.”
Furlong said if they’re going to get an agreement, they’ll likely see major progress this week, but talk of conciliation is “absolutely not” a warning to the government.
“We’ve had discussions with the (finance) minister, and I’m hoping we’re operating from the same mentality with respect to trying to get an agreement,” she said. “This is our optimism based on our discussions with Minister (Jerome) Kennedy.”
This round of negotiations has been ongoing for more than a year, noted Furlong.
“It’s been a bit of a rough time, because it’s been a long time since we’ve been in bargaining, and at times it’s been pretty frustrating,” she said. “Negotiations are like that, but they don’t usually go on this long, or at least they haven’t for us in public-sector bargaining. So I think at this point now, we’ve all pretty much looked around us and said, ‘Well, something’s gotta happen now. We can’t continue the way it is.’ I think our members are waiting to hear from us on some resolution one way or the other.”
This week, negotiations are happening for the hospital support staff, general service, maintenance operational services, Newfoundland Liquor Corp., student assistants, College of the North Atlantic support staff, school boards, marine service, and laboratory and X-ray units. Next week’s negotiations include health professionals, air services and group homes.
A spokeswoman for the provincial Department of Finance said Kennedy would not comment on ongoing negotiations.