The town of Sackville and its unionized employees have agreed to meet on Friday with a provincial mediator in an attempt to head off a strike or lockout that could come as early as next week.
Marcos Salib, who represents the 35 members of CUPE local 1188, says the union applied for mediation last week after the provincial Minister of Labour officially declared a deadlock in the negotiations. The inside and outside workers have been without a contract since December 31, 2015.
The province appointed the mediator after the union agreed not to hold a strike vote and the town promised not to lock out its workers until both sides meet on Friday. The last face-to-face meeting was on February 22nd.
Salib says he’s hoping the town and the union can resolve the issue of whether seniority will count when a part-time, temporary or contract employee applies for a full-time position.
The union says the town has put forth a clause that proposes to remove seniority rights. The clause, which would only apply to employees hired after January 1, 2017, reads:
Notwithstanding any other article in this agreement, non-full-time employees shall be entitled to apply for an internally posted full-time position but will be considered for the position based on personal merits only and will not be provided preferential consideration because of union membership and/or seniority.
CUPE local 1188 represents the town’s clerical employees, public works staff, school crossing guards as well as workers at the Tantramar Veterans Memorial Civic Centre and the Visitor Information Centre.
New fire truck over budget
At their meeting last night, Sackville councillors heard that a new pumper/tanker for the town’s fleet of fire trucks will cost $450,528 plus HST. That’s nearly $67,000 more than had been budgeted.
Fire chief Craig Bowser said the town received two bids to supply the truck, both over the $383,546 budget. Only one of the bids, from Metal Fab Ltd. of Centreville, N.B., met the town’s requirements.
Bowser said fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar affected the cost of the truck since many of its parts are imported from the U.S. He added that $34,000 that had not been spent in last year’s capital budget and an additional $10,000 from this year’s budget would help reduce the gap if Council approves the purchase at its meeting next week.
CAO Phil Handrahan said it’s not uncommon for such bids to come in over budget and this one is “not too far out of the ballpark” under all the various circumstances.
To listen to the complete, nine-and-a-half minute discussion about the new fire truck, click on the audio player.
Boom lift truck
Meantime, Council will also be asked next week to approve spending $45,885 (including HST) for the purchase of a used boom lift bucket vehicle from Atlantic Cat rentals in Moncton.
Town engineer Dwayne Action explained that the machine is needed for such jobs as putting up and removing banners, flower baskets and Christmas decorations; cleaning the high beams at the Civic Centre and town hall windows as well as changing filters at the fire department.
The town had budgeted $50,000 for the purchase.