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SALISBURY, N.B. — A new association representing owner/operators in New Brunswick says the province can forget about resuming construction on the Trans-Canada Highway between Moncton and Fredericton unless they get paid higher rates.

“Nobody is going back to work,” says Willard Killam, an O/O involved with the Tri-County Association of Gravel Truck Contractors. As many as 70 independents have joined the association, which was formed Monday night at a meeting in Salisbury, N.B.

Maritime Road Development Corp. (MRDC) is the company holding the provincial contract to build the four-lane highway.

The association says its members will refuse to work, once the spring construction season begins, unless they are paid the same amount as truckers hauling for provincial government construction projects.

Their argument is that, even though a third party holds the contract, the province nonetheless is the one fronting the money — therefore, the O/Os should get the full provincial rate.

They say MRDC is now paying them $1.37/tonne. According to Killam, that rate was boosted after the O/Os set up a partial roadblock in protest over the previous $1/tonne rate last October.

The provincial rate is $2.08/tonne, with work is slated to be done by November.

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