The Official Opposition is calling for Premier Higgs to immediately appoint an independent mediator to work with government and the CUPE locals who are currently at a stalemate in labour negotiations with the government. Fully 93% of the over 9400 votes cast in recent strike votes favour a strike or other job action.
“The Higgs government has created yet another crisis — this time taking public sector unions to the brink and leaving them with no other option but to take a strike vote,” said Roger Melanson, Leader of the Official Opposition. “Despite repeated calls from us and from the unions for the Premier to return to the bargaining table he has chosen to not listen. And this at time when workers providing essential public services are on the verge of burn out and when the challenge to recruit and retain workers has never been more daunting.”
There are currently over 20,000 workers including heath care, education, community college, court and transportation workers who have been without a contract with the Higgs government, some for a considerable length of time. The unions are seeking a fair wage offer as well as improvements to working conditions. Government’s current offer does nothing to improve New Brunswick’s dubious standing at the bottom of public sector wage rankings amongst the provinces.
“If the Premier continues with his “my way or the highway” approach the crisis in health care and the emerging crises in the delivery of other public services will only deepen,” continued Melanson. “At a minimum, an independent mediator should be appointed immediately and get the parties back to the table in order avert further disruption and a potential strike. I know most workers would prefer to show up for work — not to walk a picket line.”