New Brunswick

Bathurst locks out 20 administrative employees in contract standoff

About 20 administrative employees of the City of Bathurst were locked out on Thursday morning after the city says a 20-month negotiation process has reached an impasse.

CUPE Local 1282 says working conditions and wage increases were deemed unsatisfactory by its members

Bathurst Mayor Paolo Fongemie said the city has no choice but to proceed with the lockout after there was no movement in contract negotiations. (Radio-Canada)

About 20 administrative employees of the City of Bathurst were locked out on Thursday morning after the city says a 20-month negotiation process has reached an impasse.

The workers, members of CUPE Local 1282, were notified on Wednesday that the lockout would be in effect starting July 25 at 8 a.m.

Bathurst Mayor Paolo Fongemie said in a news release that a final offer was presented to the negotiating committee on June 18, and again on July 18. The last collective agreement between the city and the union expired on Dec. 31, 2016. 

"To our knowledge, the offer has not been presented to the membership for vote," Fongemie said. "After trying to move ahead in this process for 20 months, we unfortunately had no choice but to proceed with the lockout notice."

City employees who are members of CUPE Local 1282 were locked out at 8 a.m. on Thursday. (Francois Vigneault/Radio-Canada)

The union said in a statement the city is using the lockout to pressure union members into accepting the offer.

"We find it deplorable that the employer is willing to use such dishonest manoeuvres to achieve its goals," said Guy DeSilva, CUPE Local 1282 president.

DeSilva said when notice of the lockout was received, members were asked if they wanted to vote on the final offer. The vast majority said no.

The union representative said the working conditions and wage increases were deemed unsatisfactory by members. They want to return to the bargaining table.

The city said the lockout will not affect service to the public, but DeSilva disagrees.

The affected employees include receptionists, IT support technicians, payroll and accounts clerks and other positions he said are essential to the city's operations. 

With files from Radio-Canada

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