TIMMINS, Ont. Management negotiators at Child and Family Services of Timmins and District have asked the Ontario ministry of Labour for a no-board report, starting the countdown to a legal lockout/strike deadline. A work stoppage by 150 members of Local 2196 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) could begin as early as mid-April.
Its difficult to imagine why management would jeopardize the important services we provide to children and families in our communities, by setting the stage for a disruption in service, said Fran Ludwich, CUPE National Representative.
The workers provide child protection, mental health and other counselling services to children and families in Timmins and District, covering a wide area from Moosonee to Temagami. They include social workers, children and youth therapists, mental health counsellors, residential counsellors, early childhood educators, child and welfare workers.
Management has tabled benefit concessions and other takeaways during contract talks, and major outstanding issues include wages and workloads. The employers wage offer falls short of what other childrens aid societies and similar agencies have agreed to in other parts of the province. Many similar agencies include contract language in their agreements to help deal with workloads.
We are trying to negotiate a collective agreement that is fair and reasonable, said Kim Cress, a child protection worker and CUPE 2196 negotiating committee spokesperson. We have no contract language to deal with excessive workloads, and our members are suffering from burnout management needs to address this issue.
CUPE 2196 members voted 86.5 per cent to support the negotiating teams bargaining goals, including a strike mandate if management doesnt abandon concession demands.
The last thing we want is a strike, and well stay at the bargaining table until we get a deal, said Cress. But it takes two sides to make a deal, and a lockout would jeopardize the well-being and future of children in our communities. We hope management will return to the negotiating table ready to do what it takes to reach a settlement.
For further information, please contact:
Kim Cress, Bargaining Cttee spokesperson, CUPE 2196 705-465-2543
Fran Ludwich, CUPE National Representative 705-264-1269 (o)
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications 416-292-3999