The Ball Freeze

How will wage losses affect you, your family and your community?

What is a concession?

Concession bargaining is a term used in negotiations in which the employer asks the union to give back previously gained improvements in pay and conditions.

The employer may also propose two-tier contracts with lower wages, benefits, and working conditions. This would see members who work side-by-side being paid different rates of pay, with access to different benefits, and even different pensions upon retirement. Two-tier provisions are considered a concession.

Accepting concessions is no guarantee you’ll ever get back what you’ve lost. If a union has a history of concession bargaining, the employer is that much more likely to ask.

It is important to remember that every item that is in our collective agreement is something that bargaining teams of the past have fought hard to get and to protect.

A wage freeze means real wage losses

Newfoundland and Labrador workers – including health care workers, school board workers, long-term care workers, library workers, transition home workers, NL Housing and others – have been waiting years for a decent pay increase. Better wages are necessary to get the economy growing.

For many workers, the collective bargaining process is the only tool at their disposal to control their wages, while the cost of living rises. Voting on their collective agreement is a means to protect their income. When a union member votes on a collective agreement, they’re not just protecting themselves – they’re protecting their family, their community, and the future for generations of workers.

When planning their own household budget, union members should plan for the four years of the current contract plus the two years it may take to negotiate the next contract.

In proposals presented to CUPE by the Province’s negotiators, the Ball Government has put forward a four-year wage freeze on public sector workers, for the period of April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2020. This means real wage losses projected as 11.1% compounded (as the rising cost of living outpaces wage gains) in the four-year period of the contract we are currently negotiating.

This attack on public sector wages will do serious damage to the economy. Suppressing public sector wages will eventually drive down private sector wages. If the Province is serious about growing the economy, they should not attack wages or retirement income.

Labour compensation and household spending are responsible for well over half of our country’s national income and spending and for more than 60 per cent of our economic growth since 2009.

Households have maintained consumer spending by increasing their debt to record levels and leveraging equity in their homes as house prices have escalated. This has been affordable with low interest rates, but won’t be sustainable as interest rates rise and real estate prices plateau or decline.

Increase in the cost of living* – Newfoundland and Labrador

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
2.7% 2.6% 2.9% 2.4% 2.4% 2.6%

If labour compensation and consumer spending don’t increase at a decent and sustainable pace, then our economy won’t grow at a decent pace either.

The chart below can be used to estimate how much you will lose if your wages remain the same during this four-year period, plus the two years it may take to negotiate the next collective agreement.

Annual Wages Wage Losses
2016 2017 2018 2019
20000 520 540 580 480
30000 780 810 870 720
40000 1040 1080 1160 960
50000 1300 1350 1450 1200
60000 1560 1620 1740 1440
70000 1820 1890 2030 1680

*Source: The 2017 Economic Review – Fall Forecast, Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Finance.


Watch our latest TV ad

On Monday, December 11, a new ad campaign by public service workers began in Newfoundland and Labrador and will be shown on TV screens across the province. CUPE’s public services workers launched the ads to voice their concerns about the Ball Government’s failure to protect good jobs, as well as the impact on our economy and our public services.

FIve TV ads will air throughout December and January. Watch the television ads on NTV and CBC.

Watch all our videos

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