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CUPE promises action after passage of New Brunswick pension law

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The New Brunswick government has voted 28 to 19 to convert five public sector pension plans into a shared-risk system.

CUPE members were in the Parliament gallery on Tuesday afternoon to watch the debate and booed Progressive Conservative MPs when they stood to support Bill 17 in its third reading.

Bill 17 will receive Royal Assent on Wednesday and is expected to come into force in February.

“Today was not the end, it is just the beginning,” said Stephen Drost, president of CUPE New Brunswick, after Tuesday's vote. “I can't tell you exactly what's coming, but I can tell you that they are not going to take it lying down. Stay tuned.”

Prime Minister Blaine Higgs said Tuesday's vote was an “uncomfortable affair” due to booing from the public gallery, adding that there would likely be a debriefing on decorum in the public gallery by legislative staff.

“I don't remember an outbreak like this happening during my time here in Parliament, so this is very disappointing,” Higgs told reporters after the vote.

The change in pension plans will affect janitors, maintenance workers, school bus drivers, school administration staff and nursing home employees.

The PC government believes that a shared-risk pension system is necessary to protect taxpayers. CUPE believes that Bill 17 violates the union's collective agreement and has already threatened legal action.

For more news from New Brunswick, visit our dedicated provincial page.