The Canadian Union of Public Employees was out protesting across New Brunswick on Saturday, saying it’s concerned over privatization of the public service.
It is one in a series of so-called days of action put on by public sector unions in New Brunswick. The focus of the event is the Department of Transportation.
Kevin Dalling is with CUPE Local 1190 which represents Transportation Department workers, including snowplow drivers and ferry operators.
“The Gallant government is saying privatization is the way to go while in reality it’s costing you the taxpayer more money for the service that you get,” says Dalling.
Dalling says changes are already in the works. “We’re losing our chip seal crews and our striping crews and stuff like that within the next 12 to 18 months”.
The union says 277 positions are being lost in the department. The 2016 provincial budget states 200 casual positions involving non-core functions will shift to the private sector.
Local 1190 was supported by other CUPE locals. They say they can’t get the figures from the government but use the privately maintained highway between St. Stephen and Moncton as an example.
“They’re doing it at a cost of about $44,000 per kilometre when 1190 members, our own public sector members can do it for about $6,000 per kilometre,” says Brien Watson of Local 1253, which represents school district workers.
“So that money is going out of the province.”
Some residents voiced concern about contracting out public services. “If you’re thinking that they can grab a few extra dollars from our the public purse, I think they will do so,” says Shawn Murphy.
The union says more action is planned in the future. Watson adds that “We’re trying to save the taxpayers of this province money and trying to save those public sector jobs at the same time.”