PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE – After making one last effort to complete a new collective agreement, the professional and support staff of the Child and Family Services (Central Manitoba) are on strike as of this morning.
Bargaining between the members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2483, and the Employer has taken over a year and the 24 staff have been without a contract since early 2006.
“We were just hours away from when we could strike. We met yesterday but they offered only minor changes to their last position. We’re still far apart on what we think is a fair wage increase,” said Lee McLeod, President of the Local.
“The wage difference is not just about dollars and cents, it is about recognition of the work we do for the families in the region. A fair wage is good for us, good for the people we work for, and good for the community as a whole.”
The workers provide front line child protection and support services and emergency services to roughly 10 percent of the population of Manitoba. If they are on strike, the workers have made arrangements to provide only emergency services and they are concerned about increased risks for children and families in Central Manitoba if a work stoppage is allowed to occur.
“We have tried to avoid a strike, but the Board has just made it impossible. We have to take job action to get them to negotiate seriously and to reach an agreement,” said McLeod.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than a half-million women and men. In Manitoba, CUPE represents 24,000 members working in health care facilities, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services. CUPE represents frontline workers in a number of social service agencies that deal with family crises.