LITTLE CURRENT, ON Long-term care workers at Centennial Manor on Manitoulin Island, represented by Local 2165 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), are angry over statements made by chair of the homes Board of Directors, Pentti Palonen, blaming financial difficulties at the facility on unionized workers and their wages and benefits. The union is also fighting cutbacks in hours that affect resident care.
These workers earn substantially less then their counterparts in Sudbury retirement homes, said CUPE National Representative Anna Sweet. Centennial management is way out of line for saying their wages and benefits are the cause of financial challenges it shows a total lack of respect for the work our members do and the quality of services we provide to residents of Centennial Manor.
In recent media statements, the chair of Centennials board of directors points the finger at benefit costs and the outcome of arbitration settlements as the cause for financial difficulties at the home.
Long-term care workers do not have the right to strike, and arbitration lets a third party hear from both sides, then decide whats fair to settle a contract dispute, said Sweet. Bad-mouthing the process in the press undermines the integrity of our labour relations and is totally inappropriate behaviour for a board chairperson.
While base funding from the ministry of Health has increased, Centennial is reducing hours and services, said Sweet. Perhaps there needs to be more scrutiny of management practises at the home before pointing fingers at frontline staff. CUPE plans to file grievances over lost hours and raise public awareness around the importance of the services their members provide at the long-term care facility.
This administration has made questionable expenses in the past, including thousands of dollars for charting equipment and books that were later abandoned, said Sweet. Its not right for them to look only at wages and benefits when theyre looking at their spending.
We will be reaching out to residents in our community, urging them to talk with local politicians who ultimately appoint board members at the home, said Sweet. Its important that they understand whats going on and recognize that union bashing hurts our community.
Other long-term care facilities work with workers to conduct fundraising activities and promote the services we provide, said Sweet. We hope Centennial management will start working with us and stop this attack on frontline workers.
For further information, please contact:
CUPE National Representative
Sudbury Area Office
Ontario Regional Office