End could be in sight for lockout

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Nancy MacPhee
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Both parties closer to a resolution, says the town’s manager

SUMMERSIDE — The end could soon be in sight in the weeklong lockout of six CUPE employees by the Town of Kensington.

Unionized members of the Town of Kensington’s workforce and their supporters walk a picket line outside town hall on Monday.  Linda Jones, left, does not work for the town but is a member of CUPE, she took time out of her day to support town employees, like Vicki Campbell, right. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer

Both sides met Wednesday and, said the town’s manager Geoff Baker, there appears to be movement to come to a resolution that would appease the town and the union.

In interview late Wednesday afternoon, Baker said that he and CUPE national representative Stacy Delaney met early in the day to discuss options that had been put on the table during a late-day meeting on Tuesday.

“More options were evaluated,” he added.

A second meeting was held Wednesday afternoon between the negotiating teams, which ended with an agreement to resume talks Thursday morning.

“Discussions are still very much ongoing and there is really nothing new to offer at this point,” said Baker. “We’re still hopeful that a deal is going to be reached here shortly.”

He wouldn’t divulge details of the talks, only to say that options from both parties were put on the table and discussed.

“As soon as we can release details we certainly will.”

Tuesday morning, the union rejected what Baker called at the time the town’s final offer of a 7.5-per-cent pay increase over three years. That offer also included on-call pay for part-time police officers.

It was the same offer that the town presented to the union, which it rejected, prior to locking out its employees on Dec. 4.

“That is certainly still the stance, the 7.5 per cent over three years,” said Baker. “However, if there are ways to structure around that then we are certainly open to all possibilities within that realm.

He added, “I am uncomfortable about giving any details around that right now. I really am. I think the best thing for me to say is discussions are still ongoing and we are certainly hopeful that we bring this to resolution over the next couple of days.”

Six members of CUPE Local 4893 have been out in the cold, picketing outside of town hall for a week.

The workers — communications technicians, a public works employee and a janitor — are among 12 CUPE members who work for the town that have been without a contract since April.

The other members are uniformed police officers, who, under the province’s Labour Act, are exempt from the lockout, mandated to work since they are deemed essential employees.

Negotiations began earlier in the year with the town offering a six-per-cent wage increase over three years, bumping that up to the 7.5-per-cent offer. The union initially wanted a nine-per-cent wage increase and, Tuesday morning, put an eight-per-cent increase over three years on the table, an offer the town refused.

Baker said Wednesday if talks continue to progress it is his “sincere hope” there could be an end to the lockout by week’s end, adding he is more hopeful than he was the same time Tuesday.

The union could not be reached for comment prior to deadline.

 

nmacphee@journalpioneer.com

 

 

 

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