New Brunswick

Fredericton council votes for lockout if union gives strike notice

In a unanimous vote on Monday night, Fredericton city councillors decided to lock out members of CUPE Local 508 if they give notice of a strike.

Contract for outside workers expired in 2018. Negotiations have been going on since last October

The City of Fredericton is hopeful outside workers won't want to go on strike.

In a unanimous vote on Monday night, Fredericton city councillors decided to lock out members of CUPE Local 508 if they give notice of a strike.

CUPE Local 508 represents outside workers, including those involved in snow removal on streets and sidewalks, trails, parks, and outdoor rink maintenance, as well as drinking water and wastewater repair.

The outside workers' contract ended in December 2018 and negotiations have been going on since last October. 

The union has not held a strike vote, and the city's chief administrative officer said he's still hopeful the dispute with city workers won't come to a strike. 

"A strike is nothing anyone wants and obviously it's going to hurt for both the employees striking and for the City of Fredericton and it's unfortunate," said Chris MacPherson.

"But it's certainly a possibility and we have to do our due diligence to make sure we're ready because [for] the citizens of Fredericton, we still have responsibility to make sure they can get around on the roads and they have safe water."

MacPherson said if there is a lockout, city managers who have the training will step in to drive plows and salt trucks and fulfil other gaps in services.

"We'll do the best we can, but it's not going to be service as usual for the public," he said. 

The union is required to provide the city with 24 hours notice before going on strike. A lockout will prevent the union from taking a rotation strike action, which the city said will make providing services more difficult. 

"Safety is paramount," Mayor Mike O'Brien said during the council meeting.

"We respect the workers that we have and the work that they do, but we still have to make sure that the city operation remains safe for all taxpayers and fairness to all employees and to the city."

MacPherson said wages is one of the biggest sticking points in negotiations, and although both sides have moved closer together, it's still a concern. 

Mediation will continue Thursday. 

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