Union representing highway workers calls on N.B. government to overhaul Winter Maintenance Program

The union representing New Brunswick Highway workers is urging the Transportation Minister to overhaul the Department's snow removal program, identifying three major issues that need attention.

CUPE Local 1190 President Andy Hardy said at a news conference on Wednesday that last week's storm gave people a clear picture of the difficulties currently faced under the Winter Maintenance Program.

The first issued identified by the union is the department directive to stop operations from 11 p.m. until 4 a.m., with Hardy adding that Mother Nature works 24/7.

Secondly, the union says uniform salt and sand directive for districts fails to take into account provincial weather patterns.

Finally, they say the department demands its plows can only hit the roads once 7 cm of snow has fallen, which reduces the overall number of runs.

Hardy says, "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."

He says starting by hiring one spare per division would be a good step to begin reversing the cuts to permanent staff and equipment, which the union estimates have totaled 80 operator positions and 40 plows since 2011-2012.