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(Sydney) The union representing Nova Scotias provincial highway workers says the Department of Transportation (DOT) is using previous winter storm costs as an excuse to not recall workers over the summer months.

CUPE Local 1867 President Gareth Drinnan says, The DOT has cut its summer maintenance budget, as a result of cost overruns associated with the winter snow removal.

To add insult to injury, we have been told by department officials that the budget for next winter has been bumped up because of increases in snow removal and the money is coming from the summer budget. I guess Nova Scotians complaints about potholes and poor roads will just have to wait, says Drinnan.

Drinnan says, The bottom line is that the provinces highway workers who went above and beyond the call of duty to dig the province out from the storm of the century are now being rewarded with job losses this summer. Frontline workers get laid off, but nowhere do I see any supervisors or senior managers being asked to stay home.

CUPE says there are 12 highway workers in Sydney who are currently on lay off, and three in Middleton, just as an example. To add insult to injury, on Friday (July 9th)15 workers in Inverness North/Victoria were given layoff notices, the majority of whom usually work well into the fall.

Says Drinnan, Ironically, private contractors who profited from the extra work associated with the blizzard are getting an extra $2.5 million out of the departments budget. Yet again we see Nova Scotians paying the price for all of the profits that are going to private contractors under this government.

Transportation Minister Ron Russell gave us a commitment that there would be no layoffs of senior people as a result of contracting out. How does he explain the fact that these workers sitting home in Sydney have a minimum of 10 years to a maximum of 25 years service, asks Drinnan.

Drinnan says if these workers dont get recalled within 12 months, they lose their jobs completely. They also require over five months annual service to keep their pension and benefits program.

For information:
Gareth Drinnan, President, Nova Scotia Highway Workers Union, CUPE Local 1867
832-1867 (o) - (902) 499-5794 (Cell)
John McCracken, CUPE Communications Rep.
455-4180 (o)