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Stratford 005400680065 union representing 117 full and part-time employees at Spruce Lodge Home for the Aged in Stratford is hoping the employer will adopt a more positive attitude in conciliation talks set for Monday, after demanding concessions and rollbacks in negotiations since February.

“We haven’t had a wage increase in almost seven years, and Spruce Lodge wants to cut our benefits to fund a meagre 2% wage increase – that means we would be paying for it,” says Stephanie Ische, president of Local 2166 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing program coordinators, health care aides, resident assistants, maintenance, and other support staff at the Home.

The administration is trying to gut benefits, sick leave, seniority, statutory holidays, and eliminate a 30-minute paid lunch 007400680065 equivalent of a 6.6% wage cut. Their final offer of 1% in the first and 1% in the second year of the contract was conditional upon achieving savings through cuts in other areas of the contract.

CUPE is not in the concession business,” says Beryl Côté, CUPE National Representative. “We strive to improve the living standards of our members, not roll them back 0061006e0064 we’re not going to pay for our own increase.”

“Our members earn well below the provincial average while our workloads have grown steadily through staff reductions and increased levels of care,” adds Ische. A health care aide earns 13.76 dollars an hour at Spruce Lodge, while the provincial average is 15.86.

“Our members care deeply about the quality of care we provide, and we are dedicated to the residents we serve,” says Ische. “But at some point the stress levels and lack of recognition take their toll 006600610069rness is all we’re looking for.”

If Monday’s conciliation talks fail to reach a settlement, members of CUPE Local 2166 will hold information pickets and appeal to the community for support.

“Local politicians from area municipalities, including the Reeve of Perth County, sit on the Board of Spruce Lodge,” says Ische. “We’re calling on members of the public to contact their elected representatives and tell them to give fairness a try.”