The collective agreement between the province and NAPE will have a ripple effect even on non-unionized workers within government.
NAPE members ratified the agreement Wednesday which sees a wage freeze over the four years of the agreement, the elimination of severance payments for anyone hired after April 1, 2018, and a no layoff clause that extends until the end of the agreement.
Finance Minister Tom Osborne told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that he intends to take similar measures with non-unionized workers within government.
“I am currently working on anybody who’s non-bargaining, anyone who’s management on taking the same measures with severance because that does save a lot of money for our province,” said Osborne.
“Non-bargaining and management will see the same elimination of severance and will see the four zeroes.”
A committee will be struck in the next month to determine how government is going to handle sick benefits, as well. Four union members and four government representatives will sit down to figure out how best to handle the high cost of sick leave to the province. The committee will be able to make non-binding recommendations to government for consideration of how those benefits are handled in the future.
As it stands, there are no changes to sick leave in the agreement that NAPE just ratified.
Osborne reiterated his assurance that the no layoff clause is only for the duration of the new agreement. He says legal opinions from the Department of Justice back him up on that point.
There will also be changes to life and health insurance for government workers.
Currently, once a worker has worked 10 years with government, they are eligible for pension benefits, which they cost share with government 50-50.
Under the new agreement, and new hires will have to work for government for 15 years to be eligible for benefits upon retirement. Then, the benefits are cost-shared with government, with the worker paying for 85 per cent of the benefits and government chipping in 15 per cent.
There’s then a scale established where the longer a worker works for government, the more government shares the cost of the benefits. If a worker retires with 30 or more years of experience, the cost share is 50-50.
Government and NAPE now need to formalize the agreement, which could take up to a month.
No estimate was given on when the other collective bargaining units with CUPE, the NLTA, or Nurses Union are expected to conclude.