Members of CUPE 108, representing municipal workers with the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), were shocked and upset by the direction given to them the morning of August 18 by management to remove shelters used by people without homes. “Our members want the public to know that they would have opposed the removal of the shelters, as they have done previously,” says CUPE 108 President Scott Chetwynd.
“In the early hours of Wednesday, August 18, outside workers employed by Halifax Regional Municipality were directed by management to take down shelters and to remove, box, label and store personal belongings. This occurred at municipal properties including Peace and Friendship Park, the old Halifax library, the Commons, and other sites,” says Chetwynd.
“This was initiated by management under a shroud of secrecy. Workers and the union were not given advance notice,” adds Chetwynd.
“Prior to August 18, HRM management had assured our members that a directive to remove shelters would not happen again. So, workers were shocked when they were given these directives again on Wednesday,” says Chetwynd.
“Also, they faced unsafe conditions throughout the day, without adequate training. Many have told us that they’re traumatized by the events and they’re struggling to understand why their employer would insert them in the middle of such a controversial, ill-planned and unsafe situation,” says Chetwynd.
“We are advising our members on their right to refuse unsafe work and we have reached out to HRM management, including CAO Jacques Dube,” says Chetwynd. “We asked that our members be removed from unsafe conditions and immediately be escorted to safety. Management has not responded, and we feel this is a clear indication of the municipality’s position on worker safety.”