Nova Scotia

CBRM, inside workers at impasse as union members reject tentative deal

Members of the union representing inside workers at Cape Breton Regional Muicipality strongly rejected a tentative deal reached last week. They're in a legal strike position, but have not begun that process.

CUPE Local 933 says municipality needs to offer more to 911 call centre staff, jailers at police lockup

The union representing staff at Cape Breton Regional Municipality's city hall, 911 call centre and police lockup has voted to reject a tentative deal while in a legal strike position. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The union representing inside workers at the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has rejected a tentative deal brokered last week.

CUPE Local 933 was in a legal strike position and had set a deadline of last Friday to get an agreement, reaching a tentative deal with the help of a conciliator.

But the members voted that down on Thursday evening.

"There was 116 members at the meeting, which is one of the largest numbers we've seen in years at a meeting, and for a local that's only 138 members, it was a landslide towards strike," said local president Daniel Colbourne.

The union represents workers in city hall, the 911 call centre and jailers in the police lockup.

The tentative deal had offered most workers a little more than they had in their last collective agreement, but it did not offer the wages demanded by 911 workers and jailers and only promised future talks on those.

'Vote for solidarity'

Staff in different jobs voted overwhelmingly for solidarity, Colbourne said.

"They stood with their brothers and sisters and they said, 'Enough is enough. It's time to fight for what is actually needed,' and they showed their brothers and sisters that they're there to stand behind their backs."

Colbourne said the emergency call centre workers and jailers have been overworked and underpaid for years.

Just last week, before the last tentative deal was reached, the union learned that four more jailers had quit to work at the provincial correctional facility, where the wage is higher, he said.

"It doesn't make sense that we're hiring these people, we're vetting them, [giving them a] lie detector test, getting them and starting to get them trained and then the correction centre is coming and getting them for a couple of more bucks up the road. They need to do something now to help that issue."

Colbourne said the union can serve CBRM with a 48-hour notice of strike action at any time, but has not begun that process.

The municipality has been asked to provide a better offer first, he said.

Council calls emergency meeting

On its website, CBRM announced an emergency in-camera council meeting for Friday afternoon to discuss labour relations.

No one from the municipality was immediately available for comment.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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