Special constables working as jailers at the Cape Breton Regional Police Lock-up say they have waited long enough for the employer to address wage inequities and are now going public. The eight members of CUPE 933 earn about 25 percent less than the special constables working at the Cape Breton Correctional Centre, and about 35 percent less than the Halifax lock-up booking technicians who do similar work and have the same training.
Special constable Sharon MacLeod says the employees met with management in January to discuss wages and other concerns. “We are chronically understaffed,” says MacLeod. “Staff are hired and trained and then take a job down the street where the money is better.” This means the employees work a lot of overtime she says, as there is not enough staff to cover vacations and sick leave. In addition, she says their responsibilities have increased steadily over the past few years.
CUPE National Representative Tammy Martin says the work is actually more high risk than at the correctional facility. “People who enter lock up may be actively using substances and can be aggressive,” she says. “The employees have no medical staff or specially trained officers to back them up.”
She says the money required to bring wages up to par with other special constables in the province is a drop in the bucket for the police budget. “Considering the fact that the regional police service came in about $1 million under budget this year there is no reason why we can’t afford wage parity for this small group of employees,” she says.
The union has launched radio ads and is asking the public to support them in their quest for wage justice.