CUPE workers protest plans to privatize Grand Manan's NB Liquor store. (CBC)

Premier David Alward was confronted by protesting union members on Grand Manan on Thursday who are angry over the province's plan to privatize the only liquor store on the island.

Alward was on Grand Manan as he celebrated the maiden voyage of the new Grand Manan ferry.

But the friendly photo-opportunity did turn serious when he met with the members of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 963.

Martha Thompson, the local union president, told the premier of their concerns over the plans to privatize the only liquor store on Grand Manan.

"That puts five positions out of work and those people that work at that store have lived on Grand Manan all, or most of their life," Thompson said.

"Grand Manan is a unique island. It's not like they can transfer to the next town or village. They would have to uproot, sell their homes, uproot their children and move off the island."

NB Liquor expects to save $200,000 a year from the changeover.

The tender is scheduled to go out on Monday for the replacement agency store.

Thompson said the union hopes the government will reconsider.

"That's what [NB Liquor is] saying is it comes down to dollars and cents, but we've asked for the math of it and we haven't been able to get that," Thompson said.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs has asked all government departments, including NB Liquor, to closely examine their budgets in the hope of finding savings.

In his March budget, Higgs said the NB Liquor Corp. will make $10 million more in 2011-2012, but the finance minister did not say how that increase would happen.