CUPE Local 1190, representing New Brunswick Highway workers, held a news conference today urging the Transportation Minister to overhaul the Department’s snow removal program.
“Last week’s weather bomb gave citizens a clear picture of the current difficulties plaguing the Winter Maintenance Program,” said Andy Hardy, president of Local 1190.
The union identified three major issues that need attention:
- The 11 p.m. – 4 a.m. shutdown Department directive;
- The 7 cm of snow restriction; and
- The uniform salt and sand directive for districts, which fails to take into account provincial weather patterns.
The 11 p.m. – 4 a.m. shutdown directive forces plow operators to stop operations at night. The Department also demands its operators follow the “7 cm of snow” rule: to reduce the overall number of runs, plows can only hit the roads once 7 cm of snow has fallen.
“Our Divisions operate with no spares, and people need to take sleep breaks, so management got creative to mask the holes in what should be a continuous operation,” said Hardy. “However, Mother Nature works 24/7,” he added.
“We call on the Minister Fraser to take the bull by the horns: get rid of these directives that make our roads unsafe. Deal with their root cause: start with hiring one spare per division. This would be a good step to begin reversing the cuts to permanent staff and equipment over the last years,” said Hardy.
Local 1190 estimates that over 80 operator positions and 40 plows have been eliminated since 2011‑2012.
At the conference, CUPE Local 1190 officially relaunched their “Bad Road Hot Line” for tracking road conditions. The public is invited to use the hashtag #badroadsNB to share pictures and driving stories on social media to get heard by politicians.
Hardy was joined by Local 4848, representing CUPE Paramedics, and Local 1253, representing CUPE school bus drivers.