CUPE condemns N.B. government’s privatization of highway maintenance work

CUPE Local 1190 holds a press conference.
CUPE Local 1190 holds a press conference. Jeremy Keefe/Global News

A New Brunswick union boss is accusing the province of giving preferential treatment to private companies it is contracting to do work on the province’s highways.

“This doesn’t tie into their big platform promise of job creation and growing the economy,” CUPE Local 1190 president Andrew Hardy said. “They can’t even guarantee this work’s going to stay in New Brunswick.”

The unionized workers say not only can they do the work that’s being contracted to private companies better, but in many cases they can do it cheaper as well.

“Taxpayers should be screaming bloody murder,” Hardy said.

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CUPE says losing out on projects points to companies receiving favourable treatment from the government, and that it could possibly be due to donations those companies made to the Liberal Party.

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“When looking through the donations that the Liberals have received there’s quite a few paving contracts in that,” CUPE Local 1190 secretary treasurer Joey Kelly said.

Roger Melanson, Minister of Finance and Transportation and Infrastructure, said in a statement that the government “understand[s] the concerns of workers who may be impacted by the changes announced in the provincial budget.”

He said a review of government spending identified areas the province could “better focus programs and services, streamline operations and transform the way we do business.”

Hardy said CUPE would be taking their concerns to the auditor general immediately to request a full investigation.

“I’m not sure if there’s kickbacks or not. That’s why we’d like the auditor general to investigate this and [have] a public inquiry into it to see if this is on the up and up,” he said.