Pending strike for over 4,000 CUPE members delayed by court injunction
Published Saturday, March 9, 2019 6:27PM AST
Last Updated Sunday, March 10, 2019 11:52AM ADT
A pending strike of over 4,000 CUPE members in New Brunswick has been delayed by a court injunction.
Over 4,000 unionized long-term care employees were preparing to walk-off the job Sunday morning at 3 a.m. Employees say they aren’t making enough money to survive, with some even living off of food banks.
“The members are upset. They’re frustrated, they’re tired, they’re financially, emotionally, and physically depleted,” said NB Council of Nursing Home Unions president Sharon Teare.
Just after 5 p.m. on Saturday, New Brunswick Minister of Social Developments, Dorothy Shephard, announced a judge granted a 10-day stay on a 2018 ruling, giving them 10 more days to negotiate a solution.
“It’s certainly my hope that negotiations will resume between the nursing home association and CUPE,” said Shephard.
The New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions represents employees at 46 long-term care facilities.
Caitlyn Shea is one of the employees affected. She says it’s becoming hard to keep up with the need for long-term care with a shortage of workers in the field.
“Our workload has been getting heavier and heavier. We’re getting more clientele with mental disabilities and they’re much heavier, and a lot more bed patients,” said Shea.
Both the New Brunswick Liberals and the Green Party sent letters of support to the CUPE members involved in long-term care. Green Party leader David Coon's letter urges premier Blaine Higgs to find funding to resolve the situation, which he says is now in crisis.
“This is Blaine Higgs first real test,” said Coon. “Everyone’s counting on him to ensure that there’s better funding, for more hours of care for the residents, improvement in wages for the employees and working conditions.”
Residents are currently receiving significantly less time than recommended with long-term care workers due to the shortages.
CUPE members are hoping a resolution can be made before the end of the 10-day deadline.
“I believe the wage will go hand-in-hand with the recruitment and retention issues that we have,” said personal support worker Nicole Munn. “And it’s just the beginning. It will start to form what we need to break through.”
“The job is so rewarding on its own that it does make it all worth it, but we’re still exhausted,” said Shea.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jessica Ng