There is little support for precarious jobs paying low wages in Peterborough, a poll of more than 1500 residents released today found. Conducted earlier in June, poll questions focused on the responsibility of large Peterborough employers to create decent work to sustain the local economy.
Several of the poll questions queried respondents about the Peterborough Regional Health Centre’s contracting out retail food service workers’ jobs to multinational corporation Compass, a company known to pay its workforce low wages with few benefits. When the hospital outsourced the jobs to Compass, the workers’ wages were cut in half and benefits reduced considerably.
92 per cent of those polled said the Peterborough hospital has a responsibility to the community to create good stable jobs that pay fair wages. When issues of “fairness” were probed, 80 per cent responded that they don’t think it “fair” that former Peterborough hospital jobs, the majority of them held by women, are now being contracted out for half the wages.
“The polling results show us that not only is there considerable support for decently paid jobs in Peterborough and at the hospital, but there is empathy for the 30 food service staff currently in negotiations with Compass and asking for a modest wage increase and no concessions to existing working conditions. The majority of them are women and in some cases sustaining families,” said Laurie Hatton, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 1943 which represents the contracted out hospital retail food staff (CUPE 1943.1).
Hatton stressed that Compass food workers have the full support of the larger, 530 CUPE 1943 membership at the Peterborough hospital, that includes registered practical nurses, housekeeping and dietary workers.
“The hospital is involved in these contract talks. Their contractor is not paying food workers fairly,” said Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE) that commissioned the poll. “All that it would cost to settle this for the entire group is an additional $36,000 a year, out of the hospital’s yearly $230 million budget. That’s a very small amount for the hospital,” Hurley said.
Other poll results include that 91 per cent want the Peterborough hospital to stop contracting out jobs to companies like Compass and bring the work back in‐house while 87 per cent don’t support the contracting out altogether.
“The Peterborough hospital has great influence with Compass and we respectfully ask them to use it. This poll shows that the community expects the hospital to lead in providing its staff with dignity in their work. Most residents value decent jobs that pay a living wage and they support a contract with Compass that begins to lift these workers out of poverty. We are very hopeful that the hospital has its finger on the pulse of this community.” said Hurley.
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President CUPE 1943