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Three private radio stations in Saint John went on strike at 8 a.m. on Monday. (Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon/CBC)

Unionized workers at three private Saint John radio stations are on strike after eight months of negotiating failed to lead to a contract.

Saint John’s CFBC, K-100, and Big John FM, which are owned by Maritime Broadcasting System of Halifax, went on strike at 8 a.m.

The company and seven members of the Canadian Media Guild failed to reach agreement on a first-contract.

The Canadian Media Guild also represents employees of Canadian Press, APTN and the CBC.

Big John FM listeners in Saint John awoke to a Halifax-based announcer Monday morning.

The station's local announcing staff are on the sidewalk outside the Union Street building.

The unionized staff are complaining about mandatory unpaid overtime and salaries that are close to minimum wage.

"Their last offer was $10.58 an hour to start," said Gary Stackhouse, the local president of the Canadian Media Guild in Saint John.

"Our wage proposal, which they are calling unreasonable and unsustainable, starts at $12 an hour and tops out at $17.21."

In an email statement, Kelly O’Neill, a spokesperson for Maritime Broadcasting System, said the stations are offering a nine per cent increase over four years.

She said the offer is "realistic and fair" and includes a $1,000 signing bonus.

"We have negotiated for the last year with the full intention of completing an agreement that was fair and reflective of the marketplace," O'Neill said in an email.

"As responsible owners and managers we will not place the health of our local stations and the well-being of the non-union staff in Saint John, at risk by entering into an unreasonable and irresponsible agreement."

O'Neill did not respond to a request for an interview.

The union says employees at the three private radio stations have gone 12 years without an across-the-board wage increase.