For Immediate release
Thursday, January 11, 2018
No layoff commitment will cost us for generations to come
The St. John’s Board of Trade is expressing grave concern after receiving a copy of the collective agreement negotiated between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and NAPE which includes a no layoff commitment which will live on in beyond the end of this agreement.
According to the tentative agreement: “The employer shall not use layoffs to effect Provincial budgetary expenditure reductions.” In addition, there is no end date listed and the duration maintains for the remainder of the collective agreement. Government has placed the union in an advantageous position for bargaining at the end of this collective agreement, as government will be forced to make major concessions to remove that generic wording.
“The provincial government has negotiated a collective agreement which unequivocally guarantees that it would not layoff to save money at a time when the Province is in a financial crisis,” says Dorothy Keating. “The taxpayers of this province are left to bear the burden of this agreement for generations to come, as once a clause is introduced it is enshrined in collective agreements only to be removed if specifically negotiated out.”
It is well documented from the Premier, the Finance Minister, the Auditor General, and the Public accounts that we have a spending problem. Government has exhausted two of three levers it can use to address our debt and deficit 1. Taxation and 2. Borrowing – both of which are at their maximum limit. Controlling spending is the last lever it can manage.
Fifty one percent ($3.8 Billion) of government expenditures is salaries and benefits.We have the largest public sectors per capita in the country, by far. As of last year, Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest number of public service jobs per 1,000 population. The Canadian average in 2015 was 67 per 1,000 population compared to Newfoundland and Labrador which had 94. In 1997, that number was 78.
By entrenching a no layoff guarantee and agreeing to provide the details of any attrition strategy it intends to implement to the unions, government has ceded its stewardship of the province.
“To hope that attrition will be sufficient to deal with our massive debt and overspending is naive,” says Keating.
We cannot lock ourselves into a situation where we rely solely on attrition to see us out of this financial crisis. We must retain the ability to manage the public sector, and we should not be providing a no layoff guarantee.
St. John’s Board of Trade