FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard in relation to ongoing negotiations with CUPE nursing home workers:

As the occupation of the Social Development offices continues through another day, like a lot of New Brunswickers including civil servants and employees of other businesses who work in the building, I am asking why?

Yesterday, CUPE delivered a message to government through the mediator that if we confirmed a date to resume talks, they would leave. They reiterated to the media last night that once a date was confirmed, they would no longer have any reason to be there. Yet, we have already confirmed a date to resume talks next week and still they remain. It is clear they have gone back on their word.

While we respect the union’s right to peacefully protest, their presence is disrupting important operations for Social Development and neighbouring businesses. They are impacting the ability of our clients to meet with staff. They are compromising privacy for our clients. Their tactics have resulted in bullying toward Social Development employees and have interrupted the department’s ability to carry out its business. This is unacceptable and it should be clear to all New Brunswickers that there is no reason for it.

Now CUPE are saying that even though a date is confirmed, they will not leave until they have a conversation with the premier or myself. While we are open to conversations and we have met with CUPE many times, we cannot be held hostage by these tactics and we will not converse with CUPE while they are occupying government offices. Only when they leave will a conversation be possible.