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St. Johns The union representing the City of St. Johns outside workers says City Council made its decision to contract out the cleaning of catch basins, storm sewer and main sewer systems based on faulty figures.

The five-year contract was awarded to Afonso Group Ltd., and is worth at least $2.6 million.

CUPE Local 569 President Greg Baker says, This is work that has been performed by city workers since St. Johns got the sewer pipe. Once again, were seeing city services being handed over to the private sector.

City council accepted a recommendation from the Director of Public Works and Engineering at its March 22 meeting. Curiously, the information was added to the agenda that night.

Baker says, We asked them to provide us with figures, which they finally gave us three days after awarding the contract. Council went on a recommendation from senior staff, which was based on only partial information. Theyve calculated the unions benefit costs at 50%, for instance, which is a completely inflated figure.

Currently, the city has two Vac-All trucks that are used to do the job. The city just spent $40,000 repairing one truck, the newer one, for the summer season. They also spent $17,000 on the older truck. Thats $57,000 in taxpayers money and now theyre going to turn around and get rid of those trucks, says Baker.

Baker says, Once the city gets rid of the trucks, this service will be gone forever. Where is the accountability and control over city services if we continue to privatize and contract out? The move will directly affect six jobs in Public Works. While there will be no direct layoffs, its yet another city service that senior managers simply want to wash their hands of, says Baker.

City workers know every problem area in the city, where to go and what to do. Theres no way a private contractor is going to be able to provide as efficient and fast a service as we do, says Baker.

Baker adds, In all of the surveys from city residents, people have told this employer they are more than satisfied with the quality of the service that Local 569 members provide. How can they justify this?

For information:

Greg Baker
President, CUPE Local 569
(709)747-4510 (h)

John McCracken
CUPE Communications Rep.
(902) 455-4180 (o)

opeiu 491