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We need transparency and accountability from City Hall

Why did several hundred municipal staff hold an illegal walkout two weeks ago? Why did they abandon their daily responsibilities to send a strong message that their bosses’ actions were not acceptable? And, perhaps more importantly, why do our elected representatives think that two weeks later they can bypass citizens’ requests for answers and simply return to business as usual without any transparency and accountability?

They can’t unless we let them. And I think that for too long we have been letting our municipal government evade important questions about how we are governed and who is making the decisions.

It has been two weeks since the walkout, yet citizens have received little comment from the municipality other than our mayor stating that it was an “illegal walkout” and posting to Facebook the result of a labour board decision that forced union workers back to work. transparency and accountability

The union has told us that the membership is unhappy about its employer as an accommodation placing a member from one union into a position that is represented by another union.

We know that both the union and the municipality have filed grievances against each other.

But what we don’t know is why a simple HR accommodation went completely off the tracks. As the union leadership clearly stated, it has no issues with accommodating employees and has been part of the process in the past without issue.

Why did the leadership at CBRM not follow previous processes when placing an accommodated employee into another union?

Why did the union feel that such strong action was needed to get the attention of the employer? After all, this meant no pay for these workers, and they knew this when deciding to take the action.

Were any union members disciplined as the mayor suggested they might be? Should they be if the usual processes weren’t followed?

And perhaps most importantly what assurances do citizens have that this won’t happen again?

What has changed? What should change? What needs to change?

I think the only glimmer of clarity we have is that the relationship between the decision-makers at City Hall and at least one union needs work. Walkouts, grievances, threats of retaliation, and public finger-pointing are not the ingredients that make respectful relationships.

And they are not the actions that give citizens confidence and trust in their governments nor respect for their decision-makers.

Let’s not forget – or let City Hall forget – that ultimately, we are the decision-makers. We are the ones who chose to put our faith in our elected representatives. They are a reflection of us, and if we don’t like what’s looking back at us in our political mirrors, we get to make different choices the next time. And next time is less than a year away.

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