2003-2004 Co-ordinated Bargaining

2003-2004 Co-ordinated Bargaining

Danny Williams drops a bombshell

CUPE members across Newfoundland and Labrador were as shocked as everyone else was earlier this month, when our new premier dropped a bombshell on public sector workers.

Coming down with a sudden case of what can only be described as ‘Sudden Deficit Syndrome’, our multi-millionaire premier instantly threw our province’s labour relations into chaos by announcing his government’s plans to bring in across the board wage freezes for all public sector workers.

He did so, quite literally, out of the blue. No prior warning, no consultation, no hint that this was coming. As if to add insult to injury, he hopped on a plane the next day and headed for a bit of fun in the sun in Barbados.

Does anyone remember Danny Williams talking about a wage freeze during the election?

CUPE instantly went on the offensive

CUPE was quick off the mark in condemning the announcement, as well as the complete lack of process or forethought that went into it.

Along with NAPE and our sister unions, we exposed the hypocrisy of hiring a Tory consultant with close ties to the Ernie Eves government in Ontario. We also publicized the fact that PricewaterhouseCoopers (the auditing firm) are big fans of Public-Private-Partnerships (P3s).

CUPE members have also made presentations at each of the pre-budget ‘roundtable discussions’ being held by government. A copy of our brief can be found on our bargaining website, www.nlbargaining.cupe.ca.

Contract talks

With thousands of public sector workers poised to enter contract talks in provincial bargaining, the Williams’ announcement was a brazen attempt to try to cut the unions off at the knees.

CUPE’s position with regard to the upcoming round of collective bargaining has not changed as a result of this transparent tactic by the premier. There are real solutions to our province’s economic problems and they include:

• Getting a fair share of our offshore revenues
• Renegotiating our equalization payments with the federal government
• Fighting to keep decent-paying jobs in our province – not eliminating the ones we currently have

The 5,300 CUPE members in Newfoundland and Labrador are proud of the contribution we make to the quality of life in our province and we are not about to let this government – or any government – use us as a scapegoat for problems which are long-term and systemic in nature.

Stay tuned for regular updates from your union as we continue to fight this fundamental injustice to hardworking public sector workers in our province. We will also be looking for your input, through your local executives, as we continue this fight.