Vital services for immigrants and new Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) are unnecessarily being put at risk by COSTI Immigrant Services’ refusal to treat Language Instruction to Newcomers to Canada (LINC) instructors fairly, the President of Local 2221-1 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 2221-1) warned today.
“We are very disappointed that COSTI insists on treating the English-as-a Second Language (ESL)-LINC instructors unfairly by not negotiating a fair and reasonable contract,” said Mahmoud Saddo, President of CUPE 2221-1.
The instructors, members of Local 2221-1 (a subunit of the larger CUPE Local) are seeking modest improvements to their collective agreement to keep pace with other unionized and non-unionized COSTI staff.
Last week, members of Local 2221-1 voted unanimously in favour of giving their bargaining committee a mandate to take any-and-all actions necessary to secure a fair collective agreement, including strike action, if necessary.
The two sides will meet with the assistance of a provincially-appointed mediator on December 3 in a final attempt to negotiate a fair settlement. Both sides will be in a legal lockout or strike position at 12:01 a.m., December 6.
“Our members do not want to disrupt the vital services we provide – work stoppage could have serious implications for COSTI-LINC students who are in the middle of citizenship applications and require their language certifications,” said Saddo.
COSTI-LINC ESL instructors teach English-as-a-Second Language, along with cultural and life skills. A lockout or strike would seriously jeopardize the success of students who are approaching final tests. Successful completion of these tests is required to establish the necessary language benchmark certification for citizenship applications, as well as for acceptance to college and university programs to upgrade skills and qualifications in their areas of expertise.
“Our bargaining committee has made several creative efforts to ensure continuity for these students, but COSTI needs to come to the table on December 3 ready to negotiate an equitable settlement that protects these vitally important services that immigrants and new Canadians depend on, and treats these members fairly and with respect,” said Saddo.
Local 2221’s members provide a wide range of services at 17 COSTI locations across the GTA, including language training, career counselling, settlement assistance for new Canadians, specialized employment services for foreign-trained professionals, refugee assistance, Ontario Works, Employment Insurance recipient and general employment counselling, to name just a few.
For more information, please contact:
Kevin Wilson, CUPE Communications, 416-821-6641
Mahmoud Saddo, CUPE 2221-1 President, 647-827-1447