Furlong is once again calling on the Minister of Transportation and Works to reverse its decision to reduce highway staff and close highway depots for the summer season. Provincial highway workers have been issued layoff notices as 13 highway depots are again targeted for closure commencing May 4th.

Furlong stated that the summer maintenance program is necessary to maintain our highways and roads. “It’s basic economics,” said Furlong. “You invest money in roads and you ensure their upkeep to protect your investment. Keeping the highway depots open is a win win situation”, she said. “Jobs in rural Newfoundland are protected, the roads are maintained following the winter conditions, the traveling public get greater security and government’s investment is protected”.

When government first closed the depots for the summer seasons, the Union argued they didn’t have the right to do so and took the matter to arbitration where the Arbitrator awarded in favor of the Union. Government then appealed the Arbitrator’s decision to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland Trial Division which upheld the Arbitrator’s decision in its entirety. Government then appealed to the Newfoundland Court of Appeal. The parties are now waiting on that decision. “If we win a hat trick,” said Furlong, “Government will have spent considerable money fighting something which the Union believes is a win for the entire province. Nearly 100 highways workers have received notice of layoff but all of the highway workers are affected as there is a ripple effect, since senior workers may choose to move to another site thus displacing others. The depots slated for closure include Avondale, Bellevue, Boat Harbour, Heart’s Content, New World Island, Placentia, LaScie, Northern Arm, Port Rexton, Rocky Harbour, Roddickton, Steel Mountain and Torbay.

Furlong is calling on Minister Hedderson to take immediate steps to rescind the decision.

For further information, contact:
Carol Furlong at 570-2470; 570-2471