STURGEON FALLS, Ont. – Their employer is pushing for a strike, but the only thing West Nipissing Environmental Services workers want is to have the same wages and working conditions as their counterparts across Northern Ontario, says their union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“We just want to get back to the table and make a deal, but when bargaining got down to the nitty-gritty of wages and benefits, the employer walked away,” says Mike Fortin, President of CUPE 535-3, the local that represents 13 environmental services workers in West Nipissing who manage garbage and recycling services as well as the municipal dump.
Fortin points out that the first collective agreement these workers negotiated was based on the West Nipissing Municipal collective agreement, except that wages were about 20 per cent lower and benefit provisions, such as sick days, were much weaker. Currently, West Nipissing Environmental Services employees are forced to pay for long-term disability coverage with 7.5 of their annual sick days, leaving them with only 4.5 sick days per year.
“From day one, the employer threatened to contract out the services if we insisted on getting the same terms as similar workers in other communities,” Fortin says. “It’s not fair, it’s not right, and we will not stand for it.”
Fortin noted that similar negotiations in other communities have concluded successfully without strikes or lock-outs and have included appropriate wage adjustments. The employer, West Nipissing Environmental Services, have requested a no-board on July 22, meaning that a legal strike or lock-out can ensue.
“People in the community should be asking themselves why the employer is walking away when all we’re doing is asking to be treated the same as other workers,” says Fortin. “We are ready to negotiate, and we urge the employer to come back to the table. Let’s get the job done.”
For more information, contact:
Mike Fortin, President, CUPE 535-3 705 753 1911
David Robbins, CUPE Communications 613 878 1431 (cell)