FREDERICTON - Four different locals with the Canadian Union of Public Employees have been told by the New Brunswick government that they must accept specific concessions to get a collective agreement, the union's provincial president said Monday.
Daniel Legere said the government is trying to link wage increases to the gross domestic product of the province.
It also wants to eliminate severance pay, reduce sick leave and impose a three-day period without pay for injured workers who go on compensation, he added.
"We recently had our defined benefit pension plans taken away by legislation and now we're facing even further demands on hard fought for and negotiated benefits," Legere said.
The four bargaining units include employees at the Department of Transportation, court stenographers, probation officers and education support workers.
Legere said they've been told they must accept the changes.
"That is really problematic for us," he said.
Legere said Human Resources Minister Robert Trevors declined an offer to meet to discuss the issue Monday morning.
Trevors could not be reached for an interview but in an emailed statement he said he has agreed to arrange a meeting with the union soon.
"Our government believes that overall, the province provides fair pay and benefit packages to its employees and the government remains committed to the collective bargaining process," he wrote.
Legere said the union met with representatives from the Liberals, New Democrats and the Green party.
"We thought it would be appropriate to let the other parties know our concerns with the atmosphere at the public sector bargaining table, specifically the CUPE tables," Legere said.
He said the state of bargaining will be an election issue. The provincial election is set for Sept. 22.
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