The Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay locked out 43 unionized employees on Jan. 12, after the two sides failed to agree on a new contract. As a result, town management provided a list of services that would be affected during the labour dispute.
Among the services that are drastically changed during the lockout is public access to the local landfill. While residential garbage collection will continue, neither residents nor businesses can enter the dump’s gate as per usual.
And for Enviro-Safe Fuel Systems Ltd, that could mean lost revenue and lost jobs. The company gets paid to safely dispose of large amounts of waste and garbage at the municipal landfill. If they can’t access the landfill, their options become extremely limited.
“What it means is we can’t go in with our roll on-roll off truck with industrial containers to drop off the garbage and other waste we pick up from other contractors,” said Enviro-Safe safety officer Dione Simms.
“There’s some stuff that I could probably stockpile in our yard,” added general manager Damien Sims. “But it’s the kitchen garbage and domestic garbage that attracts the animals and bacteria, and the stuff you can’t have around.
“We can’t stockpile garbage here because we’re not the dump.”
Damien also said even if they can stockpile waste in their yard, Enviro-Safe doesn’t have the facilities for long-term storage.
“I told my clients…that I would do the best I can for as long as I can, but we might run into issues within a week because of the volume of work that we do,” he said.
“I’ll fill up the containers I got and once I’m full, shut everything down.”
Damien and Dione say, without being able to use the landfill, at least four employees could get laid off since there will be no work for them to do.
Under normal circumstances, Enviro-Safe makes three or four trips to the landfill each day. If they can’t make these trips anymore, Dione says the company will lose roughly $8,000 per day.
Without the money coming in from the garbage disposal jobs, it could affect the other employees who aren’t even involved in the landfill work.
“Right now, if we can’t use the dump, it might shut down more people than the actual drivers going to the dump,” claimed Damien.
Town manager Wyman Jacque suggested companies who use the dump find other arrangements while the lockout is happening.
“Right now, the landfill will be accessed for residential garbage pick-up only, at the present time,” he said. “This does not prevent commercial user groups to store products in a manner that’s approved by the government until such time that they can access the landfill.
“The town is understanding the concern and we will attempt to work with the commercial user groups,” Jacque continued. “But we ask for their understanding and patience while we work through this, and that the contractor may have to find alternate storage arrangements until such time.”
Damien claims there is no alternative. The empty containers the company has to store garbage and other waste could fill up within a day.
“Lab City (is the only other option) and with our costs, it’s just not feasible to bring the stuff to Lab City,” he said.
Jacque said he would bring the concerns of Enviro-Safe to the superintendent of public works to try to find a solution while the lockout is taking place.
“We’re aware of the concerns, it’s been documented and I will be talking with my superintendent of public works and other agencies…to try to find an arrangement that can work for all parties.”
When asked if it’s possible to have the landfill designated as an essential service, Jacque noted there is no agreement between the town and CUPE to make that happen.
“I would say it’s a very important aspect to the community…right now there is no mechanism in the agreement we have with CUPE to determine the landfill as an essential service at the present time.”