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ST. THOMAS, ON. - Public health unit workers at the Elgin St. Thomas health unit, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), have asked a provincial conciliator to assist negotiations with their employer, in efforts to avoid a strike over wage parity.

Public health inspectors in Elgin St. Thomas are paid significantly less than other health inspectors in neighbouring communities,” said Tim Hagerman, spokesperson for CUPE 841.3. The workers, including public health inspectors, are seeking wage parity with other health inspectors in neighbouring communities. If conciliation talks scheduled for August 16th fail to produce an agreement, the stage will be set for a legal strike or lockout as early as September.

There’s a reason why we are understaffed and why we are having trouble recruiting public health inspectors in Elgin St. Thomas,” said Hagerman. “Our counterparts in Chatham Kent make 21 per cent more and the Oxford health inspectors are paid 16 per cent more than us – management needs to address this issue in order to protect local public health services.”

The Elgin St. Thomas health unit is currently operating with five health inspectors when the unit should be operating with eight health inspectors. Other workers who help run the health unit include parent resource workers, a volunteer coordinator, a dental assistant, a tobacco control officer, a maintenance worker and clerical staff. The workers are also seeking to improve their benefits package.

The 25 workers’ contract expired on March 31, 2005. “Conciliation talks will give management an opportunity to do the right thing and address the wage parity issue,” said Hagerman. “We will do our best to reach a negotiated settlement without a strike so we can continue our work and serve our community, but management must take this issue seriously and take the necessary steps to achieve a settlement.”

For further information, please contact:

Tim Hagerman
Public Health Inspector
Local 841.3
(519) 631-9900 ext. 227

Dave Foley
CUPE national representative
(519) 433-1753

James Chai
CUPE communications
(416) 292-3999