FREDERICTON, NB. – Red Cross Home Support Workers, CUPE Local 4598 in Bathurst, are on strike as of this morning.
“The meeting with Family and Community Services Minister Tony Huntjens and the Human Resources Minister Rose-May Poirier didn’t allow us to avoid strike action”, said Louise Thibodeau CUPE Representative.
“The real issue is that the provincial government refuses to adequately fund home care services and has resulted in our stand to get proper funding for home support care”, explained Thibodeau.
CUPE Local 4598 represents 300 Home Support Workers from Richibouctou, Miramichi, Acadian Peninsula, Bathurst, Campbellton, Edmundston and Grand Falls.
“We have decided to first remove our services from Bathurst – we have 75 Home Support Workers working in that area providing services to the elderly.”
The main issues are wages and benefits. A Red Cross Home Support Worker with 10 years experience earns $8.29 an hour. The Red Cross refuses to help them with the cost of gasoline and insurance. They don’t get any sick days or other benefits.
“CUPE Local 4598 has been trying for more than 24 months to negotiate a collective agreement. The Red Cross offers humanitarian services across the world but maintains a group of women here in New Brunswick whose wages put them on the poverty line. In an effort to avoid a labour dispute which would cause many headaches to our elderly, and people who need our services and their families, we have asked the Red Cross to take the dispute to binding arbitration. The answer was “no”. In binding arbitration, an independent person can analyze the arguments, make an objective decision and therefore avoid a strike.
“That left us with no other choice but to take limited strike action,” concluded Thibodeau.
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