"Let me be clear — your union will stand up for you, your families, your jobs, and the vital public services that you deliver to the people of the province every day." — Jerry Earle, NAPE President
St. John's (21 Jan. 2016) — On January 20, media outlets in Newfoundland began reporting that the provincial government had issued a directive to all government departments, agencies, boards and corporations requiring them to identify 30 per cent in savings in the coming three years.
As the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE/NUPGE) alerted its members, "This does not necessarily mean the government plans to cut 30 per cent across the board; however, it is a clear indication that this government is poised to take serious actions in the coming weeks and months ahead."
Possible layoffs ahead in public sector as government implements more austerity measures
On the heels of this announcement, Finance Minister Cathy Bennett told reporters that all options, including layoffs, are on the table. This is a drastic reversal from the commitments made by the Liberals and Premier Dwight Ball during the election and since forming government.
The assurances of "no layoffs" were made numerous times on the record by Premier Ball and several of his senior ministers, not only to the leadership of NAPE/NUPGE, but to all public sector workers across the province.
Minister Bennett also said that they have not made up their minds about the path forward on the financial front.
NAPE President pressing for meeting with Premier to discuss government plans
"NAPE/NUPGE will be doing everything we can to ensure that Minister Bennett, Premier Ball, and the current government stick to their commitment regarding layoffs," said Jerry Earle, NAPE President. "Efforts have already begun on that front."
Immediately after receiving news regarding layoffs being on the table, Earle sent an urgent meeting request to Premier Dwight Ball.
"Let me be clear — your union will stand up for you, your families, your jobs, and the vital public services that you deliver to the people of the province every day," he said.
Cutting to the bone, not trimming the fat
"We will impress upon government that a 30 per cent cut, if that is their ultimate target, is not ‘trimming the fat,’ it is cutting down to the bone and will only exacerbate the current fiscal situation," said Earle.
"When times are good, public sector workers are often last in line for improvements; when the times are tough, our members are usually at the front of the line to suffer the consequences," he said.
Cutting public sector workers not only impacts the individual worker – it means fewer services for everyone; it means less opportunities for young people to stay and work in the province; and it means less money in the local economy. The ripple effects of drastic actions, particularly in the form of service cuts, layoffs, and/or privatization will be felt far and wide, and can only serve to worsen the problem.
NAPE/NUPGE committed to working with government to address issues
"We were recently told by the Minister of Finance that we would be consulted and involved in the path forward, and we expressed our thanks for the offer as well as our willingness to be involved in the consultation process," Earle said. "We were blindsided by yesterday’s news. Not a good start to working together. Despite this, however, we are still committed to working with this government to help address the issues that face our province. We are hopeful that the government has the same resolve."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE