As many as 500 correctional officers, human service counselors and custodians held a rally during the New Brunswick Day ceremonies in Cocagne, N.B.
The workers — members of CUPE local 1251 — were demonstrating to raise awareness of the ongoing labour dispute between the union and the provincial government. Members of CUPE local 1251 have been without a contract for more than three years and have gone without a pay increase since 2010.
The union’s key issues include wage disparity with correctional officers in other jurisdictions, working conditions, pensions and the rights of casual employees.
“So far, negotiations with the government have been difficult,” said Everett Godfrey, president of CUPE local 1251. “The major stumbling block is wage parity. We have a retention issue, our correction officers in New Brunswick are the lowest paid in Canada and our goal is to bring our wages in-line.”
Godfrey said the union is calling on the government to negotiate in good faith.
“Correctional officers put their lives on the line every day to protect society from convicted criminals and work in [a] dangerous environment,” he said. “Violent incidents happen on regular bases in prisons and correctional officers want some respect from our employer.”
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