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SUDBURY A strike by 21 workers who process workfare applications, welfare cheques, community placements, fraud investigations, employment support services and subsidized childcare applications, is set to begin on October 13th barring a last minute deal between Local 4705 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Administration Board.

We have had a very long and difficult round of negotiations and our employer has demanded rollbacks of our existing conditions of employment, says Wyman MacKinnon, President of CUPE Local 4705, which represents the predominantly female workforce. They want to take away LTD premium coverage, bereavement leave and current vacation entitlements, adds MacKinnon.

Negotiations began in July 2000, with little progress since then. Wages are also a significant issue, as the employer will not recognize any retroactivity and both sides remain far apart.

The services our members provide are vital services and wages should at least keep up with inflation, says Dennis Burke, CUPE National Representative in the Sudbury Area Office. When an employer has rollbacks and substandard wage offers on the table, its difficult to see how we can avoid a strike.

Our members care deeply about the services they provide and the communities they serve, says MacKinnon. The last thing we want is a strike, but were prepared to go out if we have to.

Manitoulin-Sudbury DSAB workers cover a wide area around Greater Sudbury, including Espanola, Whitefish Falls, McKerrow, Nairn, Massey, Walford, Webbwood, Little Current, Manitowaning, Sheguindah, Tehkummah, Manitoulin Island, Chapleau, Biscotasing, Foleyet, Gogama, Kaplan, Shining Tree, Sultan, Westree, Alban, Burwash, Cartier, Casladen, Eden, Estaire, Killarney, Monetville, Noelville, Secord, Servos, Hagar, Markstay, St. Charles, Wahnapitae and Warren.

Were calling on members of the communities we serve to contact local politicians, reeves and mayors to tell them to prevent this strike by getting back to the negotiating table with fairness in mind, adds MacKinnon. Many of them sit on the DSAB Board, and all of them are responsible for maintaining support services and accountability in our welfare system.


For further information, please contact:
Dennis Burke, CUPE National Rep .Sudbury Area Office
Wyman MacKinnon, President Local 4705
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications