Town of Paradise locking out workers Monday morning

Town of Paradise locking out workers Monday morning

The Town of Paradise is locking out its unionized workers as of 6 a.m. Monday.

Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Laurie said town council didn't take the decision, which was announced Sunday morning, lightly.

"We have been negotiating in good faith for several months now, and we've had two tentative agreements that have been presented but rejected by our membership," she said.

A statement released by the town says the union was offered a three-year contract that included a 10 per cent wage increase: five per cent retroactive to Jan. 1, three per cent in 2018 and two per cent in 2019, as well as an increase in the per-diem rate for travel. The workers' contract expired Dec. 31, 2016.

Workers voted in favour of a strike Oct. 15, but have not walked off the job yet. The town initially said its programs would continue, but Laurie said the town had to re-evaluate its options.

"Given the fact that it's coming on winter — we're into cold weather now and possible snow — we thought it was the best option for our residents of the town to get this matter resolved before the snow starts flying, and that's why we decided to proceed with the lockout," she said, adding that the town can't wait to see if workers would walk off the job.

"We couldn't wait for them to make that decision," she said. "They could have held that over our heads for several months or even a year. I mean, we just can't wait around to be into the heavy winter months and have no standard of snow-clearing that we would normally have."

A spokesperson for the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, which represents the workers, said the union wouldn't comment before Monday's 6 a.m. deadline in the hopes that a deal could be reached before the lockout takes effect.

Recreational facilities closed

The town says that during the lockout, essential services including water testing, garbage collection and snowplowing will continue, but recycling collection is suspended.

The town hall will stay open to support essential services, but recreational facilities are closed effective 11:30 p.m. Sunday, including the Double Ice Complex, the Paradise Youth and Community Centre, the Dianne Whalen Memorial Soccer Complex, Milton Road Softball Complex and Peter Barry Duff Memorial Park.

The town's after-school program, fitness classes, and user rentals — including birthday parties — are suspended, as are regular inspections of playgrounds and trails. Council meetings will move to a monthly schedule.