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Halifax - Contracting out and job vacancies are at least partly to blame for the treacherous state of sidewalks over the past few days says the union representing HRM’s outside workers.

The current delivery model is an inefficient mix of municipal employees and several small contractors,” says CUPE Local 108 President Mike Young, “with the bulk of the work being done by the contractors.”

In addition,” he adds, “the municipality’s current practice of not filling vacancies in order to save money means that our snow and ice clearing capacity is considerably compromised.”

The municipality recently handed out more than $17 million in snow removal contracts, at least five of which are in violation of the workers’ contract, which states the municipality has an obligation to look at providing the services in-house.

CUPE proposes that the work can be done cheaper and more efficiently in-house 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.

Private contractors are always looking for ways to cut corners and maximize profit,” says Young, “whereas municipal employees are not subject to those temptations.”

CUPE representative Karen MacKenzie says if the municipality continues to not fill vacancies they should expect nothing less than complaints about services from tax payers.
“If HRM wants to see real savings,” she adds, “they should look to Saint John, where the municipality just saved $750,000 by bringing its garbage collection back in-house.”

For information:

Mike Young     
CUPE Local 108 President   
(902) 293-6299       

Karen MacKenzie 
CUPE Representative
(902) 899-0840 (c)

Gaëlle McNeil
CUPE Communications
(902) 455-4180 (o)