Nov. 19, 2008
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Rick Brewer, minister of human resources, is expressing disappointment after contract talks with the New Brunswick Nurses Union officially ended today.
"Over the last two weeks, we returned to the table and our government presented a concrete plan to address working conditions, recruitment and retention concerns," said Brewer. "We also offered to make adjustments to our original wage offer in order to meet the union's demands. Unfortunately, the union was not prepared to accept this offer."
Government and the union were returning to the negotiating table after nurses rejected a tentative agreement on Oct. 3.
"Our government heard nurses' concerns that they were overworked and stressed by the demands placed on them," said Brewer. "We told the union we would immediately set up a joint union/government committee that would examine these issues and come up with sustainable solutions. This committee would be the first of its kind in New Brunswick, and would report directly to the minister of health.
"We also offered to extend our 11.5 per cent wage offer over a longer period, and direct funds to premiums the union told us were a priority. Beyond this, we could not meet the union's demands for more money.
"These are difficult economic times across the globe, and New Brunswickers are not immune to these challenges. We must be responsible about the wage package we offer, and I believe we have been. My hope is that the union and its membership will take a serious look at what we are offering, and reconsider their position."
The union's membership includes about 5,500 hospital registered nurses, public health nurses and community health nurses. The present collective agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2007.
MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Ketcheson, communications, Office of Human Resources, 506-444-5816.