CUPE 1253, which represents 2500 school district bus drivers, custodians and trade workers are frustrated by another unnecessary delay from government to repay money owed to their pension plan.

Back on June 28, 2021, Arbitrator Elizabeth MacPherson ordered Blaine Higgs’s government to begin paying the $69+ million dollars owed to the Local 1253 pension plan. The government waited to the very last minute to file for a judicial review of Ms. MacPherson’s decision. The judicial review was supposed to be heard on Thursday, February 10th, 2022, but it got cancelled as the Government failed to file the required pre-hearing brief on time.

“CUPE 1253 filed its documents on time, but Government failed to do so for the judicial review they asked for,” said Iris Lloyd, President of CUPE 1253. “It’s been seven months already, and they have not yet paid back a cent of what is owed to our members,” added Lloyd.

While a rescheduled date has not been set, this could delay a hearing by months.  “Workers have waited long enough. It’s not acceptable that government abused procedural timelines to avoid meeting their contractual obligations,” said Lloyd.

In addition to ignoring the arbitrator’s order, the Government has yet to engage meaningfully with CUPE 1253 to settle the expired collective agreement, prolonging the period during which a strike or lockout is possible.

“CUPE members go to work every day in good faith that they will be able to collect the pension they have been promised in retirement. Workers and retirees have upheld our end of the deal for decades by providing our labour and paying our portion of our own pension contributions,” said Lloyd.

Local 1253 informed government on February 8 that it would not renew the expiring mobility agreement and would not accept that other workers do its bargaining unit work. “During the past month, custodians replaced teachers in the classrooms to assist with COVID-19-related issues as they had agreed to assist since the beginning of the pandemic. This will end with the expiry of the mobility agreement,” said Lloyd.

“Education workers in this province are tired of turning the other cheek. They deserve better from this Premier. He can delay and delay, but we are confident the court will uphold the arbitration decision,” concluded Lloyd.