FREDERICTON (GNB) – Health care and laundry workers in CUPE 1252, CUPE 1190 and CUPE 1251 have returned to work today.  

The CUPE strike had a significant impact on the health sector including cancellation of appointments and surgeries, delays in testing and laboratory processing as well as on cleaning and food services. It is anticipated it will take several days before New Brunswickers see a return to normal operations within hospitals.  

“The health and safety of New Brunswickers is always our top priority,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “I want to thank all the health-sector employees who have stepped up to cover for their colleagues over the past week, and welcome back our health support staff who are returning to work today and in the coming days.” 

On Friday, Nov. 5, the provincial government issued a mandatory order to protect the health and safety of patients and the integrity of the health-care system. All workers in CUPE 1252, who provide services required for the health and safety of patients, and workers in CUPE 1190 and CUPE 1251, who work in the health services supply chain and laundry and linen services, were required to return to work at their next scheduled shift.  

The Regional Health Authorities are reporting no issues with employees showing up for their shifts and an overall positive morale.  

Government’s offer to CUPE

The provincial government has offered wage increases of an average 15 per cent over five years which includes a wage adjustment. These increases would be retroactive to the end of each contract, which means, on average, employees would receive $7,000 in retroactive pay. 

As part of this offer, the government would work with CUPE 1253 and 2745, the two school-based groups, to review the state of their pensions through an independent process and work on a path forward to ensure all employees have access to a pension that is sustainable.

The offer also includes increasing the salary for casuals to 100 per cent of the salary paid to permanent staff from the current 80 per cent, representing $8 million more in wages for casual workers. 

“I urge employees to review the offer that has been made to the CUPE leadership,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “If they want to vote on the offer, they must tell their union representatives.”  

The government’s current offer to the union is available online.

The wage increases in the current offer would mean that an educational assistant would see a total increase of 14.98 per cent from $28.38 to $32.63 per hour at the end of a new contract, while a school custodian I would see a total increase of 17.37 per cent from $18.65 to $21.89 per hour. A laundry services worker would see an increase of 17.49 per cent for a new hourly wage of $21.50 from $18.30 per hour. An operations worker I in CUPE 1190 would see a 17.39 per cent increase to $21.87 from $18.63. A patient care attendant would see an increase to $25.11 per hour from $21.56 per hour (16.47 per cent compounded increase).

More examples of wage increases for specific jobs are available online.

Education system 

Due to the ongoing CUPE strike, all schools across the province will continue with home learning this coming week. Students will continue to learn from home until the strike is over. This provides reliability to parents and establishes continuity of learning during this time.