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THUNDER BAY The union representing social service and support workers at North of Superior Programs is calling on members of the Board of Directors to step in and take an active role in ending the strike, after learning mediation talks initially scheduled for Friday the 6th of August have been put off another week, because the Executive Director is suddenly unavailable tomorrow.

The workers went on strike June 25th after management put forward a 3-year contract offer with no wage increases. The workers have made significant sacrifices in the past, being forced to take 5 days a year of unpaid leave, or a 2 per cent annual wage cut. Factoring in inflation and the zero per cent wage increases on the table, the workers have lost much of their purchasing power over the past several years.

This strike has dragged on since June 25th, and it is unconscionable that the Executive Director has not made herself available to resume talks, says Dan Pike, a National Representative of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). After initial contact with the employers counsel, the union and a provincial mediator arranged their schedules to meet tomorrow, says Pike. When the call to confirm a location for tomorrows meeting came, the Executive Director was suddenly unavailable the Board has got to take control of this situation. Negotiations have now been scheduled to resume next Thursday, August 12th, almost a week later than originally planned.

Some board members have called publicly for a resumption of talks to settle the strike, but a rumoured Board of Directors meeting to get an update on negotiations did not happen.

This is a further slap in the face to all the people in our community who rely on our services, says Diane Atkinson, CUPE Local 3253 spokesperson. We have to question where our Executive Directors priorities lie, says Atkinson. Shes hurting our clients more than shes hurting us the Board of Directors needs to take over if we have any hope of settling this strike.

The 36 workers offer mental health, addiction counselling and integrated services for children in communities all along the north shore of Lake Superior, from Nipigon to Manitouwadge, including Geraldton, Longlac and Nakina.

Despite assurances of additional funding from government sources, and despite the fact that some board members are aware of new funds, this strike has been allowed to drag on while the communities suffer, says Pike. We urge board members who havent come forward to come to the aid of the community. The future of our services depend on it.

For further information, please contact:

Dan Pike
CUPE National Rep.
613-293-3535 cell

Diane Atkinson
CUPE 3253 spokesperson
807-229-7933 cell

Robert Lamoureux
CUPE Communications