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For Immediate Release September 30, 2004

New Brunswick is at an important crossroad in regards to free collective bargaining and the democratic rights of workers.

This provinces 6,500 hospital workers have been forced to take job action to back their demands for a fair contract with the New Brunswick government. The provinces rigid bargaining position left them no choice but to exercise their legal right to withdraw services.

The New Brunswick Coalition of Unions supports the CUPE Council of Hospital Unions in their fight for a just settlement for hospital support staff. They play an important role in our health care system and deserve to be treated fairly by their employer.

We are confident that through good faith bargaining the parties can arrive at an equitable settlement acceptable to both the union and government. What is needed is an immediate resumption of negotiations. Through good will and free collective bargaining an early resolution of this dispute is possible.

After all the parties have made substantial submissions to an independent Conciliation Board. The Conciliation Board has handed down a recommended settlement. However, the Lord government continues to reject the independent recommended settlement.

At the same time the New Brunswick Coalition of Unions is calling on the Lord government to refrain from imposing a legislated contract settlement on the hospital workers.

Legislated heavy handedness is not free collective bargaining. Back to work legislation destroys free collective bargaining and makes a mockery of the right to strike. If enacted, it will be challenged!

In the event of this type of draconian interference with the free collective bargaining process, the labour movement will stand in solidarity with CUPE, or any other union, whose members choose to defy legislation attacking free collective bargaining. And should defiance lead to mass dismissals or decertifications of bargaining units then the Coalition partners will be respecting picket lines should they be set up at their members workplaces throughout the province.

Our message to all employers public and private is simple: An attack on any unions right to free collective bargaining is an attack on the entire labour movement.

If government and employers can undermine free collective bargaining for any union, and workers do not join together to protect the most basic of our rights, it will only be a matter of time before all unions lose collective bargaining rights.

This is precisely why the New Brunswick Coalition of Unions was formed: to act in solidarity to protect workers democratic rights in the province of New Brunswick.

When it comes to defending our free collective bargaining rights, We Are One.

And lets not forget: Hospital workers have the legal right to strike subject to the provision of essential services. Over half of the NB Council of Hospital Unions membership have been designated essential through mutual agreement and remain on the job at levels requested and agreed to by hospital management. There is no crisis in our hospitals. The Lord government must negotiate, not legislate!

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New Brunswick Coalition of Unions Organizations:

  • Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union;
  • Canadian Auto Workers;
  • Canadian Union of Postal Workers;
  • Canadian Union of Public Employees;
  • Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada;
  • International Association of Fire Fighters;
  • International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers;
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 37
  • International Longshoremens Association, Local 273 and Local 1433; ∑ New Brunswick Building Trades Council;
  • New Brunswick Nurses Union;
  • New Brunswick Public Employees Association;
  • Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada;
  • Public Service Alliance of Canada;
  • United Food and Commercial Workers;
  • United Steelworkers of America;
  • Canadian Labour Congress, and
  • New Brunswick Federation of Labour

For further information contact: Blair Doucet Chairman New Brunswick Coalition of Unions

Tel.: 506-547-6213 (work) 506-546-6160 (home) 506-544-6960 (cell.) or 506-857-2125 (NBFL office)