STURGEON FALLS, ON – Public Works and Water and Sewer workers have delivered a strong strike mandate to their negotiating committees to fight discrimination and a blatant attack on women workers by the Municipality of West-Nipissing management and council.
“We will not let our predominantly women members in the clerical job classification be singled out by this employer,” said CUPE Local 535 president Paul Lafleur, after management negotiators, acting on a mandate approved by West Nipissing municipal council, singled out women workers in contract talks by demanding an increase in hours worked only for the clerical classification most of them work in, without pay for the additional hours.
Members of CUPE Local 535-01, representing 45 public works employees, voted 86 per cent in favour of strike action, if a fair collective agreement cannot be reached. CUPE Local 535-02, representing eight water and sewer workers, voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike, if management does not back away from concession demands, including their discrimination against the predominantly women workers in the clerical group.
Other concessions demanded by management include changes to hours of work that amount to over-time without over-time pay. “Our strike mandate demonstrates our members’ commitment to fight for a fair contract without discrimination,” said CUPE 535 vice-president Omer Lavergne. “We are trying to prevent blatant discrimination and trying to fight off concessions that will diminish our workplace rights – it’s a question of fairness and respect.”
CUPE is committed to returning to the bargaining table, to try and hammer out an agreement. “While we are prepared to go back to the table at any time, the employer must be willing to abandon its attack against women workers and treat all bargaining units fairly,” said CUPE National Representative Fran Ludwick.
A strike or lockout would affect water and sewer treatment, all office and clerical functions at city hall, public works and recreation. CUPE has expressed a willingness to resume negotiations to avoid a shutdown in services.
For further information, please contact:
CUPE 535 president
CUPE 535 vice-president
CUPE National Representative