- Unionized liquor shop workers in New Brunswick have voted 97.7 per cent in favour of an unlimited protest mandate.
- The premier halted the agreement because it conflicted with his objectives to freeze public sector wages, according to the union.
Unionized liquor shop workers in New Brunswick have voted 97.7 per cent in favour of an unlimited protest mandate and are preparing to picket on November 16.
If no agreement is reached, the 566 members of CUPE Local 963 who works at N.B. Liquor’s 41 publicly managed retail stores & warehouses will follow the thousands of other public workers who’ve been on strike for nearly two weeks.
“The shops will be closed. “The warehouse will be restricted to inbound and outward traffic,” union local president Jamie Agnew said during a news conference in Hanwell, N.B., just outside Fredericton, on Tuesday morning.
Wages are the key concern. According to Agnew, the union had a tentative agreement with the Crown-owned agency’s management over a year ago, but Premier Blaine Higgs rejected it.
“I haven’t gotten a raise in three years, and the last one I got was 0.5 per cent,” Agnew explained. “We’re having trouble.” So we require a fair settlement immediately.”
He claimed that the government’s most recent pay offer was 8.5 per cent over five years, which was less than the tentative agreement.
“We had a tentative deal for 9% over five years, with improved maternity leave language, better wellness language, and volunteer days,” he stated. “Mr Higgs turned down the offer.”
The premier halted the agreement because it conflicted with his objectives to freeze public sector wages, according to the union. On October 8, an impasse in negotiations was proclaimed, and a strike vote was held last week.
N.B. According to Agnew, liquor reported sales of $506 million and income of $199 million in the fiscal year 2020-21, which said that the company could afford to pay its members a reasonable wage.
“These people have been working from the beginning of the pandemic, dealing with thousands of people every day, never knowing when they might be exposed,” he explained.
“The members have spoken, and they have stated their positions clearly. They want a fair bargain and are willing to walk until one is presented or obtained.”
Thousands of public employees, including school bus drivers, educational support staff, and workers in transportation, jails, and the community college system, went on strike for the 12th day on Tuesday.
The two sides were close on wages, but the government wants to create a new pension scheme for two locals, which CUPE New Brunswick president Steve Drost argues should be removed from the bargaining process.
He told reporters Tuesday, “We’ve all agreed at this table that pensions can’t be considered during this round of talks.” “They had to get off the table,” says the narrator.
Later in the day, though, Higgs stated that the subject should not be postponed because the pension systems are unsustainable.
Higgs told reporters at the assembly, “The government puts in around three dollars for every dollar that a member puts in.” “On top of that, to stay afloat, the pension demands extra payments.” So for every $1 an employee puts in, this equates to four or five dollars.
“That isn’t equitable to taxpayers.”
The premier said he wanted actuaries to look at the two locals’ pension schemes, and he said he’d be fine with whatever they come up with. But, he stated, “We will accept the actuaries’ proposal to put forward a sustainable pension plan.”
Higgs stated that the union should accept his final offer to its members and seek approval from the labour board to do so.
“It’s something we’re considering.”
Source from Global News
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