New Brunswick cabinet ministers meet CUPE leaders in Saint John

Dozens of CUPE members picketed in the north end of Saint John on Monday, November 1, 2021. Tim Roszell/Global News

Some members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees got an audience Monday with two New Brunswick cabinet ministers, as a public service strike involving 22,000 members continues.

Chris Watson, president of Local 380, said he and other union leaders met with Health Minister Dorothy Shephard and Postsecondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder.

The meeting took place right outside Holder’s constituency office in Saint John, mere metres away from dozens of picketing CUPE members.

Watson said the meeting was initiated by the ministers and lasted about 10 minutes.

Read more: Schools close as thousands of New Brunswick public sector workers launch strike

“Our message was clear,” Watson began. “That we need to get back to the bargaining table and we need to take the concessions off (the table) and we need a meaningful negotiation.

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“They agreed with that. So they did say that they were going to reach out to Premier Higgs and try to encourage him to get back to the table.”

Watson said the ministers were scheduled to have a similar meeting with other union leaders near Shephard’s office a short time later.

He said he’s not sure why the ministers asked for the meeting, but he believes public support for striking workers has been much higher than anticipated by the government.

Global News contacted both ministers’ offices for comment, but did not receive a response.

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