New Brunswick

CUPE, province at an impasse as strike reaches Day 10

As a strike moves into its 10th day, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the New Brunswick government are at an impasse.

Unionized workers picket across province as students prepare for Week 2 of at-home learning

A CUPE striker is shown in Fredericton. (Mrinali Anchan/CBC)

The Canadian Union of Public Employees and the New Brunswick government are at an impasse as the strike moves into its 10th day.

Premier Blaine Higgs said Saturday that he was shocked the union didn't accept an offer his government presented last week.

Steve Drost, CUPE New Brunswick president, said Sunday the union sent the province a counter-offer on Friday, but has yet to receive a response. 

Drost said there are no plans for the two sides to meet. 

On Friday, the province ordered striking health-care workers back to work.

Those mandated back include more than 2,000 workers in locals 1252, 1190 and 1251, which represent support staff in vaccination clinics and hospitals, and those providing laundry services to hospitals and nursing homes. 

The order only applies to striking workers in the health sector. School staff, jail guards, court stenographers and others on strike are not affected and are continuing strike action. 

The union's lawyers are looking into how they could challenge the order, Drost said Saturday. 

The most recent offer from the union seeks a wage increase of two per cent per year, plus an additional 25 cents per hour per year for the first three years, and 50 cents per hour for the fourth and fifth years.

The province's most recent offer includes the same two per cent increase each year, plus an increase of 25 cents per hour in each of the five years. There is also a demand that some locals concede to pension changes. 

The province's newest offer says a review must be conducted on the pension plans for Locals 1253 and 2745 — the only CUPE locals not part of the existing shared-risk plan.

The province was previously explicit about its desire to convert the locals to shared-risk, but the new offer would leave it up to independent actuaries to decide what "a new retirement vehicle" would be.

Both the province and the union agree that casuals should have wages increased to 100 per cent of the applicable regular rate of pay, up from the current 80 per cent.

Because of the labour dispute, all schools across the province will continue with at-home learning Monday for the second week in a row. 


Miriam Lafontaine

Former CBC journalist

Miriam Lafontaine is a former journalist with CBC Montreal. Miriam worked for CBC during the year 2022. She previously worked with CBC in Fredericton, N.B.