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FREDERICTON New Brunswicks 6,000 hospital workers went on a legal strike at 12.01 a.m.
The government left us no choice, said Danny Bernatchez, CUPE Local 1252s chief negotiator. Their final offer wouldnt even have brought most of our members above the Statistics Canada poverty line.
The offer would also force the union to choose between a general wage increase and wage equity for some of the lowest paid workers. Wage equity is a key bargaining goal.
We are, of course, hopeful that the strike will not drag on, Bernatchez said. But our members are determined to make up for 10 years of having no raises and losing much of the buying power for their low salaries.
Hospital workers are dedicated to caring for people, so this was not an easy decision for them, Bernatchez said. However, this strike is also about sounding the public alarm about the sad state of our hospitals.
The solution is totally in this governments hands, he said. And it must include a better salary package than weve seen so far.
The strike vote showed that 90.5% of all hospital workers were in favour of the strike. About 2,500 hospital workers are not designated as essential.
News conference: 10:30 a.m., Friday, March 2, Fredericton Inn
Contact: Danny Bernatchez, CUPE National Representative, (506) 863-5851.