CUPE Local 76 members working for the city of Cambellton, N.B., took to the picket lines after being locked out by the municipal council.
Workers were locked out at 8 a.m. on Nov. 5, when months of negotiations and last-minute mediation couldn’t bring the two parties into agreement. The collective agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2013.
The main sticking points of the contract talks include wage increases, benefits and job security.
The union represents 43 employees, including staff from the public works department, bylaw enforcement officers and police clerks. Firefighters were deemed an essential service and have not been locked out.
“It is unfortunate the city council chose confrontation over negotiation,” said George Parker, president of CUPE Local 76.
The union, in what it calls a “last ditch effort” to reach a collective agreement, requested the intervention of a mediator. Parker said the city sent a third part to the table with the mandate to obtain even more concessions from workers.
“The next day, the city contracted out the snow removal services,” Parker said. “They had the choice to sit down and negotiate with workers, not try to bully their way through negotiation. Since we began this process, the city never altered its course.”
According to city management, negotiations will continue in an effort to return unionized employees to work as soon as possible.
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