City 'bitterly disappointed' union rejected latest contract offer

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The City of Bathurst says it's bitterly disappointed that the union representing its 22 locked-out inside workers voted down its latest contract offer.

The lockout went into effect last month after 20 months of negotiations resulted in an impasse.

The city and union returned to talks on Monday with the help of a provincially-appointed mediator;  however the latest contract offer was rejected on Tuesday.

Mayor Paolo Fongemie says the city presented a sustainable offer that was more than reasonable and reflected the city's financial reality as well as above-average wage increases.

In its latest offer, the city offered workers a 7.5 per cent wage increase over five years, a number Fongemie says is ahead of the average citizen as well as higher average the cost-of-living figures as illustrated by the union's cost-of-living calculator.

Fongemie says CUPE is using city employees in its provincial 'Break the Mandate' campaign.

The mayor says the campaign is not the city's fight and that Bathurst has always provided its employees with fair wage increases, over and above the cost-of-living, and will continue to do so.

Fongemie maintains that services to citizens will not be affected by the lockout, and that the city is prepared to wait for however long it may remain in effect.