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HAWKESBURY, ON – Local 1026 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing lifeguards at the Town of Hawkesbury, is hoping management will move towards a fair contract settlement after frustrating talks that began over a year ago. As talks reach the conciliation stage, CUPE is reaching out to the community for support, and raising awareness of our services and the issues our members face.

Lifeguards are the first responders for emergencies within the pool facility, until the arrival of paramedics,” said Joanna Welburn, spokesperson for the lifeguards. “We take our work very seriously, and we want our work, our dedication and the liabilities we face, to be recognized and respected.”

When the lifeguards joined CUPE, we suggested they become part of the main municipal collective agreement,” said CUPE National Representative Jean-Charles Lavigne. “The Town refused, and instead hired an expensive law firm to come up with a separate collective agreement, with inferior working conditions.”

Lifeguards in the Town of Hawkesbury earn much less than other municipal workers, and far less than lifeguards in neighboring municipalities. When the employer filed for conciliation, 80 articles of the new collective agreement remained unsettled, including wages and working conditions. Conciliation talks are scheduled for June 28, 2013.

We would like to reach a negotiated settlement, and one that respects our work and the public we serve,” said Welburn. “For that to happen, we need management to recognize that these young workers make an important contribution to the Town, and we would prefer to remain here and have a career in public service in Hawkesbury. Unfortunately conditions like the ones we are currently working under cause a lot of young people to seek a future elsewhere, to earn a decent living.”

Lifeguards and their supporters in Hawkesbury are calling on residents to contact local politicians, to urge them to treat lifeguards fairly. “All we want is a fair contract, so we can continue our important work serving the people of Hawkesbury.”

For further information, please contact:

Jean-Charles Lavigne, CUPE National Representative: 613-933-5515

Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications: 905-739-3999