MISSISSAUGA, ON. – More than 40 drivers for Red Cross Mississauga-Halton Branch are in a legal strike position after negotiations broke off last week, but have decided to maintain services for dialysis patients, seniors and other passengers for the time being.
“These members are trying to negotiate a first collective agreement that will give them a living wage,” said CUPE National Representative Helen Gibb-Gavel. “But they also know how important, even life-saving, the service they provide is to their passengers.”
Instead of taking strike action, the drivers will hold information pickets as they try to convince Red Cross to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair contract. The employer set the clock ticking toward a lockout or strike when they requested a “no board” report from the provincial conciliator earlier this month. Mediation last week did not achieve a settlement.
“We have a situation where some of the drivers, especially the part-timers, would actually be better off on strike pay,” Gibb-Gavel said. “There is no rhyme or reason to the way Red Cross pays its drivers.” The association has 14 pay scales for 47 drivers, she said, noting that two drivers who have done the same job for the same length of time could easily be paid different rates. The majority earns less than $13 an hour.
The Region of Peel also has some responsibility for the drivers’ low pay, said Gibb-Gavel. The region’s TransHelp service has contracted its Passenger Assistant Program to the Red Cross.
“The region should not be trying to save money by contracting out service to an agency that pays its drivers significantly less than what TransHelp drivers earn,” she said. “If there is going to be a contract, it should be based on fairness and respect for all workers providing the service. Why should Red Cross passengers not get the same consistent service as other TransHelp passengers get from drivers who feel secure in their jobs?”
For more information, contact:
CUPE National Representative
Tel: (905) 568-4664
Cell: (905) 242-4207
Tel: (416) 616-6142