Layoffs shameful, former Corner Brook mayor says
Hundreds of people rallied outside Corner Brook's City Hall on Monday night, venting frustration over the layoff of four firefighters.
The city eliminated the positions on Feb. 15, just moments after signing a new collective agreement with its unionized firefighters.
The demonstration — the latest to be held in the city since the cuts shocked firefighters and many residents — also drew firefighters and labour leaders from across Newfoundland and Labrador.
"I was ashamed that I was a mayor of this city ... that our city is doing something like this to what I would refer to as essential workers," former mayor Charles Pender told CBC News.
Corner Brook is one of the few municipalities in Canada where firefighting has not been declared an essential service.
Mayor Neville Greeley, who has said the layoffs were necessary to pay for wage increases negotiated at the bargaining table, walked by demonstrators without speaking to them. Many chanted for him to resign.
Councillors Leo Bruce and Gary Kelly stopped to speak with people in the crowd.
"That’s pretty low, Leo, you can't get any lower," resident Donna Ryan said as she confronted Bruce.
But Bruce said he did not agree with how the layoffs were announced.
"I was upset with the timing of that also, and I'll be the first to admit that here," he said.
Organizers said more demonstrations are planned.
The new contract between Corner Brook and the International Association of Fire Fighters will see wage increases of 16 per cent over three years.
In an interview with CBC News Tuesday, Greeley dismissed calls for him to quit.
"I take that with a grain of salt," Greeley said. "At the end of the day, the city has made a decision that is in the best interests of the citizens of Corner Brook and the City of Corner Brook long term, and I make no apologies for that."
The mayor says many of the people protesting aren't even from Corner Brook.
As for the way the layoffs were handled, Greeley says it was a council decision — not just his.