More than 300 outside workers reject offer from HRM despite lockout notice

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Halifax outside workers reject city’s contract offer
Despite facing the potential for a strike or lock-out, more than 300 Halifax Regional Municipality outside workers have rejected the city’s contract offer. Global's Marieke Walsh looks at what it could mean for residents – Aug 18, 2016

More than 300 Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) outside workers have rejected the city’s contract offer, despite being faced with a lockout notice.

The workers, all members of CUPE 108 Unit 1, voted by 90 per cent to reject the offer Wednesday night.

“Residents should be aware that the City has made it clear that they would rather lock out workers than continue to bargain a fair collective agreement,” Todd MacPherson, CUPE representative said in a release.

Both the city and the union are in a work stoppage position, meaning either side could pull the trigger on a lockout or strike as long as 48-hour notice is given.

The rejected contract includes a 1.5 per cent wage increase for each year of a four-year contract.

“From the municipality’s perspective we are frustrated that the union rejected what we believe is a fair and reasonable offer,” HRM spokesperson Tiffany Chase said.

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The union says the sticking points include proposed changes to the members’ pension, seniority rules, and work hours.

CUPE says they’re prepared to return to the negotiating table with HRM, but says they “will not bargain concessions – even under the threat of a lock out.”

“We want to reach an agreement at the table, and avoid a disruption of services that could happen if the City goes through with their threat to lock out our members,” Mark Cunningham, CUPE 108 president said in the release.

The 300-plus workers include those working in facility maintenance, gardening, traffic sign and marking technicians, painters and many more.

Both sides say they want to avoid a work stoppage and reach a negotiated settlement. The city hasn’t yet responded to the union’s request to return to the table.

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