Halifax – As HRM Council gets set to approve more than $17 million in snow removal contracts at tonight’s council meeting, the union for the municipality’s outside workers says at least five of those contracts are in direct violation of the CUPE contract.
CUPE Local 108 President Mike Young says, “We have filed a grievance against this contracting out based on language we have that states the municipality has an obligation to look at providing the services in-house. They can’t just unilaterally contract out more work.
“Residents were very unhappy with the level of service last winter and our hope was that the new mayor and council would take a long, hard look at the current delivery model which consists of an inefficient mix of municipal employees and several small contractors. If they hand out these contracts, we will have more of the same,” says Young.
CUPE argues the work can be done in-house more efficiently and for less money, arguing public delivery is cheaper for at least three reasons:
• Private contractors typically make a profit of between 15% and 20%;
• Municipalities can purchase fuel in bulk at significant savings;
• Governments at all levels get an HST exemption for an additional 15% savings.
Says Young, “Private contractors, by their very nature, are looking for ways to save money and maximize profit. Municipal employees are not subject to those temptations.
“Last year there was a high level of frustration from HRM residents about snow removal, the bulk of which is currently being provided by private contractors. We are urging Council to put the brakes on this expansion of contracting out.”