The President of Canada’s largest union is calling on the Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality to engage in better treatment of its employees in the wake of last spring’s forest fires in Fort McMurray.

CUPE President Mark Hancock says the municipality has been treating its unionized workforce ‘incredibly badly’ in the re-entry period after the fire, pointing to dismissed grievances and unaddressed health and safety concerns.

On a visit to the region this week, Hancock met with CUPE members who work for the Municipality. He said municipal employees had a lot to say about problems that have arisen.

“Instead of working as partners on the re-entry, the RMWB has arbitrarily tried to change the collective agreement, denied overtime, and aggressively fought every issue brought forward by employees,” said Hancock.

“Our members were on the front lines during the fire. They were the heroes who kept the water system clean and protected, who ran the camps, and who looked after the pets left behind. They deserve to have their concerns treated with respect.”

Hancock said other employers in the area have treated their employees much better, and he’s calling on the Mayor and Council to set a new direction.

“Instead of doubling overtime for managers, the council might consider looking at valid health and safety concerns of the front line employees,” said Hancock.