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Saskatchewan health talks break down

Conciliation talks on behalf of 25,000 health care providers in the province collapsed Wednesday after the Saskatchewan government and the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO) presented a “take it or leave it offer” to conciliator Doug Forseth, cancelled bargaining dates and then contacted the media.

Representatives of the three health care provider unions were bitterly disappointed by the employers’ actions, saying it showed a tremendous disrespect to health care providers.  “Can you imagine them treating teachers or registered nurses this way?” asked Gordon Campbell, president of the Health Care Council.

The health care provider unions had presented a new offer of settlement, and SAHO and the health employers said they would respond Wednesday the 27th – a week later.  Instead of a response, however, the employers produced a final offer – one that increased their wage offer by a paltry 0.1% (to 9.5% over four years) and was loaded with concessions.

The 25,000 health care providers in the province have been without new collective agreements for almost two years.

Blue collar strike in Montreal continues

Montréal’s blue-collar workers from CUPE Local 301 are continuing their series of 40 days of rotating strikes.  The kick-off took place on Monday, January 25 in the borough of Ville-Marie.  Each day the action will move from one borough to another.  During this first week, the strike moved through Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Saint-Laurent, Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Plateau-Mont-Royal, Outremont, and L’Île-Bizard-Sainte-Geneviève.

The striking blue-collar workers maintain a picket line between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in front of the City Hall in each borough.  They use the opportunity to explain the specific issues of each borough, specifically in terms of the internal expertise, contracting out, quality, and the costs to the residents.  Their union chose to have reduced hours of picketing in order to not disturb traffic too much. 

Montréal’s blue-collar workers have been without a work contract since August 31, 2007.  The main stumbling blocks for their spokes-people are job preservation and contracting out, which the union feels is excessive. 

CUPE 2191 signs deal with Community Living Toronto

Developmental services workers in 90 work-places across Toronto, members of CUPE 2191, have signed a memorandum of settlement with Community Living Toronto, after a final day of bargaining that ended at 5:30 am January 26.

CUPE 2191 has 1100 members who service 6000 individuals with intellectual disabilities.

The settlement contains some much needed improvements to language in the collective agreement and compensation of wage increases in each of the three year agreement, along with a pension plan that boasts being one of the best in the sector.

Bill 21 fight just beginning, say labour leaders

Over 250 activists gathered outside Burnaby City Hall on Wednesday to send a clear message to the BC Liberal government: working people in BC are not going to take legislated contracts lying down, and they will have the support of the entire Canadian labour movement in fighting for free collective bargaining in the final countdown before the Winter Olympic Games.

Labour leaders, including CLC President Ken Georgetti, Steelworkers District 3 Director Steve Hunt, CUPE 873 President John Strohmaier, CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill, and BC Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Angela Schira were all there to send a strong signal to the Campbell government: an attack on paramedics is an attack on all workers.

Strohmaier reminded the crowd that this is an historical time not only for ambulance paramedics but all workers, since Bill 21 marks the first time a provincial government has legislated an end to a labour dispute while union members were voting on their last offer.

Survey of seniors’ care workers shows need for long term care spaces

A survey of 561 employees of long term care and residential care facilities in Alberta shows little improvement in the conditions of the province’s seniors’ facilities.

The results of the survey reveal a number of problems at all levels of senior and long term care.  Results include:

• 73% of respondents report staffing levels are not high enough to keep up with resident needs.
• 71% of respondents report residents on wait lists for long term care.
• 58% of respondents in residential facilities and 87% of respondents in long term care report shortages of staff on weekends.
• 62% of respondents report not having the training to deal with complex medical problems of residents.

In December, CUPE called upon Premier Stelmach to keep an election promise to build 600 new long term care spaces in the province.  So far none have been built.

Strengthening Pensions: Listen and learn online.

CUPE’s sixth annual training for pension trustees took place in Ottawa this week - drawing on the expertise of pension resource people from inside and outside the union, to make sure that CUPE members and staff who sit on CUPE pension plans get an opportunity to learn about current issues and hone their skills as trustees and advisory committee members.

Couldn’t make it to Ottawa?  Many of the presentations from the training are currently being made available as CUPE podcasts - and you can find them at http://cupe.ca/pensions/.

Economist Toby Sanger, pension researcher Nancy Parker, and CLC campaigner Joel Harden are all there now - and more will be appearing over the next week.

At CUPE’s 2009 National Convention, the union voted overwhelmingly to develop a strategy to protect and improve pensions.  Making sure that our trustees have the information they need to be informed representatives is just one part of our larger campaign for retirement security for everyone.

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