Peterborough, ON – Management at Little Lake Cemetery have walked away from a new collective agreement during the ratification process, forcing workers there to vote to take strike action if necessary, says their union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“We are shocked that it has come to this,” says Phil Jacobs, President of CUPE 504, representing Peterborough municipal workers, including workers at Little Lake Cemetery, members of CUPE 504.1, who have voted 100 per cent to take strike action if necessary.
“We had a memorandum of settlement. Everyone was happy. Bargaining was over. What happened?”
Opportunism knocked, says Jacobs. Management ripped up the deal it had reached with its two permanent and three seasonal workers.
“Management must have read the headlines about the economic downturn and thought it could renege on the modest wage increase and weaken its commitment to a pension plan,” Jacobs says.
“Come on. Peterborough families still need funeral services, regardless of the economic downturn,” Jacobs says. “Fact is, we asked for the relevant financial information from Little Lake but they refused to provide it. They’re using the downturn as an excuse to scrap the new agreement.”
CUPE and Little Lake reached a memorandum of settlement for a new 3-year agreement back in October. However, the usual ratification process was stalled when Little Lake balked, ripped up the memorandum of settlement and then demanded lower wage increases (from 3 per cent to 2 per cent) and insisted on a lesser commitment to a pension plan for its two permanent, full-time staff (which would not cost Little Lake anything extra).
The union has asked for a “no board” from the labour ministry, which, once received, will set the count-down for a strike. However, Jacobs remains hopeful that things will get back on track. Mediation has been set for Feb. 20.
“Little Lake Cemetery is a growing Peterborough business and is currently expanding,” Jacobs says. “There is no reason to rip up the contract we have already agreed to. Let’s tape it back together and move on.”
Phil Jacobs, President, CUPE 504, cell 705 760 5415
Alison Davidson, CUPE National Staff Representative, cell 705 760 5113
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell 613 878 1431