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Saint John garbage collection impacted by strike pickets

By Brad Perry Sep 14, 2023 | 6:16 AM

Saint John residents are seeing delays when it comes to curbside garbage, compost and recycling collection.

It comes amid ongoing strike action by around 140 clerical, administrative and support staff represented by CUPE Local 486.

While workers who handle curbside collection are not on strike, some are reportedly choosing not to cross picket lines.

In a statement Wednesday, the city said it has suspended curbside recycling and compost collection so it can prioritize garbage collection.

Meanwhile, city police said they responded to reports of picketers blocking garbage trucks on Fairville Boulevard on Wednesday morning.

“Officers attended and directed the trucks and picketers off the roadway without incident,” Staff Sgt. Sean Rocca, a police spokesperson, said in an email.

“The police have received several calls involving picketers blocking vehicles operated by the City of Saint John.”

On Tuesday, the city accused a CUPE national representative in a Facebook post of blocking a garbage truck from moving.

Rocca said police have responded accordingly to mediate these situations, adding no charges have been laid.

Members of CUPE Local 486 walked off the job early Tuesday, four days after they gave strike notice to the city.

Union members work in several city departments, including police/fire/911 dispatch, customer service, bylaw enforcement, permitting, recreation, court services, financial services, administrative support, IT and technical roles.

The union claims the city has been offering a contract which violates its own wage escalation policy.

That policy, approved by council in 2019, said a three-year rolling average of assessment base growth should be used in contract negotiations.

But the city disputes that claim, arguing that it has a “fair and reasonable offer” on the table.

City officials have said there are contingency plans in place to minimize public service disruption during a strike.