Toronto–A bitter four-week strike at Torontos Central Neighbourhood House, a multi-service community agency may soon end if 150 community workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4308 vote in favour of ratifying a tentative collective agreement reached early this morning.
Over the past month, the labour dispute has highlighted the funding crisis in the community agency sector and the urgent need for more provincial dollars for services like home care support, shelters, and regulated child care.
The 150 workers who make on average $12 per hour have had no wage increase for almost a decade and 80 per cent receive no benefits. Many community-based social service agencies are in a deficit situation and in an effort to stay afloat financially are extracting wage and benefit concessions from already low-paid workers. Bitter strikes, like the one at Central Neighbourhood House are becoming increasingly commonplace in the sector.
This strike has brought to the forefront the systemic underfunding of community agencies which provide help and support to our most vulnerable. It has also highlighted that community workers who are the working poor and predominantly women of colour deserve decent wages and good benefits, said Judy Darcy, CUPE national president.
Darcy also stressed the need for agencies and workers to unite in developing a broad community-based coalition focused on securing stable funding for frontline agencies.
Our members want to be back working with the people in the community who need their help. Resolving this dispute and bringing attention to the importance of the work we do in the community despite chronic provincial underfunding have been our goals. And weve achieved that.
We want to rebuild a positive working relationship at our agency and we are hopeful that our employer will join us in lobbying the provincial government to inject badly needed funding into community agencies, said Kelly OSullivan president of CUPE Local 4308, who along with Darcy and CUPE Ontario secretary-treasurer, Brian OKeefe were at the bargaining table in a marathon 20-hour session that resulted in the tentative deal.
For more information please contact:
CUPE National President
President CUPE Local 4308