Nova Scotia

Flagmen pay numbers misleading: union

The Nova Scotia Highway Workers' Union is dismissing a claim that flag workers on the province's new paving crew will get too much money.

The Nova Scotia Highway Workers' Union is dismissing a claim that flag workers on the province's new paving crew will get too much money.

The workers will earn $16 an hour, but with overtime and benefits, that translates to $57,528 per person every year, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said Thursday.

The group obtained data from the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation.

"Those rates should be set by the private sector, not government," said Kevin Lacey, the federation's Atlantic director.

But Gareth Drinnan, spokesman for the unionized workers, said those numbers are misleading.

"They'd have to be working some wack of overtime in order to do that and give up a lot of their lives to make that type of income," he said.

"Even the benefits we got cost mostly 50/50 and they have to pay out of that, and that's assuming that they are a regular status employee who gets benefits. A lot of our crewmen and labourers who do this type of work are casuals who don't even qualify."

Private-sector road builders say flagmen are paid about $12 an hour.

The province is getting back into the road paving business after an 18-year break. The government says it expects to save up to $4.7 million by doing some projects on its own.

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