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Workers employed by Compass Group Canada scored a major victory in early December when an arbitrator awarded them wages increases of as much as 101 per cent.

The CUPE members are dietary aides, housekeeping aides, laundry aides, cooks, cleaners and maintenance workers at the Montfort Hospital’s long-term care facility in Ottawa. The Montfort contracted out the facility to Central Park Lodge/Capital Care Corporation, which in turn contracted out work to Compass, a corporation famous for low wages and bad benefits.

CUPE took the corporation to arbitration for not paying wages comparable to other health care workers in the nursing home sector. The arbitrator agreed and ordered that wages rise as high as $16.63 an hour, up from between $8.25 and $10 per hour.

This award exposes the ugly underbelly of contracting out and privatization,” said Jim Flynn, CUPE national representative and long-term care coordinator. “This is a tremendous victory for Ontario’s working poor, and it sends a strong message to private, for-profit multinational corporations.”

That ugly underbelly was further exposed when Central Park Lodge ended its contract with Compass, effective February 2007.

When you include the profit motive in what should be a public service, funding is used to make profits and not to pay workers a fair wage,” said CUPE national representative Richard Gauthier. CUPE is calling on Monfort Centre management to honour the arbitrator’s award instead of trying to cancel the contract improvements.

The arbitrator also awarded other contract improvements, including sick leave, pay in lieu of benefits, holiday pay for part-timers, overtime pay, better vacation pay and scheduling by seniority.

In another contracting-out win, an arbitrator has ruled that Aramark Corporation must bring the wages of contract cleaners at the Ottawa Hospital in line with the hospital’s in-house cleaners. CUPE 4000 took the case to interest arbitration.