The Tories have won New Brunswick’s election, taking 44 seats in the 55-seat Legislature. But this change in government won’t deter CUPE NB from continuing its campaign to protect the rights of public sector casual workers.
CUPE NB representatives vow to pressure the newly elected government to review legislation that denies public sector casual workers their basic human rights.
Under the Public Service Labour Relations Act, many public sector workers including hospital workers, jail guards, school personnel and snow plow operators work without employee status, contract rights and the right to unionize.
CUPE kicked off the campaign during the election with a series of ads in New Brunswick’s major dailies, outlining the plight of thousands of casual workers affected by the legislation. The launch of the ad campaign was then followed by a news conference that featured Marie-Lyne Blanchard, a casual worker whose job was terminated just one day before she was to go on maternity leave.
“Her situation really resonated with the media,” says Susan Barton, President of CUPE New Brunswick. “Reporters are still looking for her to comment and before the election Liberal politicians were trying to keep her quiet.”
CUPE New Brunswick has also intensified their lobby efforts. Last week, a delegation met with government representatives and stressed the need to update the Act.
“The two deputy ministers were receptive to our concerns,” says Barton. “They promised to raise the issue with their new political masters.”
After 12 years in office the incumbent Liberals were reduced to just 10 seats, while party leader Elizabeth Weir remains the sole New Democrat in the Legislature.