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Newfoundland cuts deal with nurses

Globe and Mail Update

A last-minute deal with Newfoundland's nurses has staved off looming labour disruption.

The tentative agreement was announced early this morning by the provincial government after what it described as an all-night bargaining session. The news came only hours before picket lines were to go up in the province.

Debbie Forward, the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses' Union, said she would be recommending acceptance of the deal to the 5,000 people in her union.

“This will make a significant difference for nurses in this province,” she told a news conference. “I don't think it's about blinking. I think it's about compromising.”

Ms. Forward said the deal was an improved version of what the government had presented weeks ago.

Ms. Forward said they held firm on not allowing increased salaries for nurses in hard-to-fill areas. But the union now accepts that an injured nurse could lose his or her job two years after being deemed permanently disabled, a key demand of government.

Full details of the tentative agreement were not immediately released but the government says it will include a wage hike of 21.5 per cent over four years, plus additional increases for new nurses and senior nurses.

“We are pleased that after working through the night, we have been able to avert a strike with a tentative agreement that maintains our core principles as an employer,” Premier Williams said.

The union denied they were about to strike, saying that government actions amounted to a lockout.

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