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Over 4,000 N.B. long-term care workers frustrated over province's court injunction
Over 4,000 long-term care workers in New Brunswick are feeling frustrated after a pending strike was delayed by the province, which obtained a court injunction.
“Without the right to strike, these workers are being reduced to collective begging. Not collective bargaining,” said Danny Légère, the president of CUPE New Brunswick.
The long-term care employees were preparing to walk-out Sunday at 3 a.m.
The union that represents the employees believes the late announcement of the court injunction was unjust and undemocratic.
“You are taking away the right to free collective bargaining, which has happened here,” said Légère. “Because their ultimate and last tool in the tool chest, is the right to strike.”
The CUPE union is accusing the New Brunswick government of working behind the scenes and failing to communicate with the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions, as well as not addressing the real issue of wage increases.
“Under this whole premise of ‘We need the parties to come together,’ but she said clearly in that letter, there willl be nothing more than what was already offered,” said CUPE Maritimes regional director Sandy Harding.
The 10-day court injunction obtained by the province temporarily bans strike action in 45 of the 46 nursing homes in New Brunswick.
The York Care Centre in Fredericton is the one nursing home that is allowed to strike. However, in order for them to do so, they would need permission from the Labour Board. CUPE provincial coordinator, Patrick Roy, said this process of approval can take longer than 10 days.
“Everything is normal at York Manor right now,” said Roy. “It’s really a miscommunication or a misrepresentation. They don’t really have the right to strike, still.”
Money is the key issue in the dispute, with workers saying they deserve a fair wage.
“A wage reflects the workload we put in every day. The risks we put our bodies through every day,” said personal support worker Nicole Munn.
The legal team that represents the CUPE union says the 10-day court injunction is likely only the first step.
“Issuing this 10-day stay, which is a temporary to a permanent stay, which will be out later,” said Roy.
“It’s absolutely shameful that we could be years before this is settled,” said Harding.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jessica Ng