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Photos from the City of Saint John appear to show workers standing in front of garbage trucks lined up along Whitebone Way on Sept. 25, 2023. Image: Submitted/City of Saint John

UPDATED: City granted injunction against striking workers

By Brad Perry Sep 28, 2023 | 12:02 PM

Striking municipal workers in Saint John will not be able to block city vehicles or picket on any highway.

A justice with the Court of King’s Bench granted an injunction against CUPE Local 486 on Wednesday afternoon.

The order prevents picketing on any highway in the province of New Brunswick, though sidewalks are still allowed.

It also bans union members from obstructing municipal vehicles on any highway, and from blocking the city or its employees from entering and exiting the Crane Mountain Landfill or any other locations where the city conducts its operations.

“The Order will better enable the City to deliver critical services to taxpayers during the strike, including garbage collection services that have been delayed since the strike activities began,” the city said in a news release on Thursday.

The order, which was agreed to by both the city and the union, will remain in effect until at least Oct. 3.

City officials halted all garbage collection on Tuesday, claiming that “illegal” picket lines by striking workers were preventing garbage trucks from moving.

Photos sent by the city appeared to show workers standing in front of garbage trucks lined up along Whitebone Way on the east side.

However, the union president said they were well within their rights to picket any city asset and they were not doing anything illegal.

Garbage collection resumed in a “limited” capacity on Wednesday and fully resumed on Thursday. Recycling and compost collection are expected to resume overnight Sunday.

In a statement Wednesday evening, CUPE said the judge “did not rule that there were any illegal activities.”

“Let us be clear, from day one, this strike has been legal, and we have respected all orders from the police,” said Brittany Doyle, president of CUPE Local 486.

The union is asking the city to “retract its libellous statements from all online publications and issue a formal apology to both residents and workers.”

Doyle said the two sides are “very close to reaching an agreement” and called on the city to come to the table and finalize a deal.

Union and city bargaining teams resumed negotiations with the support of provincial mediation over the weekend, but no deal was reached after 12 hours at the table.

Around 140 clerical, administrative and support staff, represented by CUPE Local 486, walked off the job on Sept. 12.

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.