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Crown prosecutors say contract talks at standstill and now seek conciliation

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's Labour and Employment Board has refused to declare a deadlock in contract talks between Crown prosecutors and the provincial government, and instead ordered them to apply for conciliation.

"From our perspective the contract talks are kind of at a standstill," said Chris Titus, president of the New Brunswick Crown Prosecutors Association.

Titus said it could take months before a three-member conciliation panel can meet, and even then the recommendations are not binding.

"We're quite far apart. The conciliation board's recommendations are not binding, so unless there's some movement by the government, we're still going to be as far apart," he said. 

He said he wanted the board to declare a deadlock, but has applied now for conciliation.

The main issue is wages, which Titus said are the lowest for Crown prosecutors in the country.

He said one Crown prosecutor recently moved to Nova Scotia, increasing his salary by almost $30,000.

Titus said the government needs to improve on an offer that was rejected by the 58 members in July.

Marc Belliveau, a spokesman for the Treasury Board and Human Resources, said the government is pleased the dispute will go to conciliation.

"The government has demonstrated that it can reach deals with unions. Government has reached 17 agreements since June 2015, including an agreement with the Crown Counsel, another group of unionized lawyers at the Office of the Attorney General," Belliveau wrote in a statement.

The last contract for the Crown prosecutors expired March 31, 2013. They continue to work under terms of that agreement.