Staff at Breton Ability Centre in Sydney River, Nova Scotia have rejected the tentative agreement offered by their employer. Members of CUPE 3513 voted 81 per cent against the proposal.

“The employer is proposing changes that will negatively­ impact the seniority list for casuals,” says CUPE National Representative Kathy MacLeod. “Since almost half of the 290 employees at the centre are casuals, this did not go over well.

“In addition, the employer wants to reduce holiday pay by one third,” says MacLeod.

CUPE 3513 President Karen MacMullin says the members are shocked that the employer is seeking to reduce benefits during this time. “The additional protocols in place for keeping residents and staff safe during the pandemic have already pushed staff to their limits,” she says. “This is not the time for the employer to remove a standard benefit that has been in place for 14 years.”

The employer has agreed to come back and meet with the union on August 20.

The workers, who provide 24-hour care to the residents of the centre, have been without a contract since 2015.