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BELLEVILLE, ON – Child care workers at Abigail’s Learning Centre are seeking a first contract to improve their working and earning conditions to enhance continuity, service and care at the agency, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 15 front-line employees.

All our members are looking for is a fair contract that respects their work and allows them to earn a fair and decent living,” said Barbara Williams, CUPE National Representative. “Instead of offering a fair wage that is comparable to other child care workers in the community, the employer has essentially been paying the workers below the minimum wage.”

The employer has been using the provincial government’s Wage Enhancement Grant (WEG) to shore up the hourly wages to above the $10.25/hour, minimum wage standard. “The WEG money is supposed to be used to subsidize child care workers’ low wages and not intended for employers to negate paying minimum wages,” continued Williams. “It is this kind of attitude and disrespectful behaviour shown to their own workers that has led to 17 months of futile and frustrating discussions at the bargaining table.”

Why is this agency refusing to pay their own workers fairly and properly when they have a healthy surplus in their reserve account and just recently purchased a brand new bus,” asked Williams. Since August 11, 2009, the workers have been trying, every possible way, to negotiate a first collective agreement that includes fair wages and respect for their work. “Patience has led to frustration and now towards a potential lockout or strike later this month that would hurt not only the workers, but the children and parents who rely on the agency.”

Mediation talks are scheduled for February 23 with a potential strike or lockout deadline of February 25, at 12:01 a.m. “Low wages lead to high turnover, which affects continuity and quality of service at Abigail’s Learning Centre,” said Williams.  “We are urging parents and community members to contact management at the agency to tell them to respect their own workers and negotiate a fair deal that would prevent a work stoppage.”

For more information, please contact:

Barbara Williams
CUPE National Representative

James Chai
CUPE Communications