After the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) of the District of Nipissing and Parry Sound broke its word about agreeing to resolve the current labour dispute through binding arbitration, workers locked out of their jobs since December have no option but to hold their own job action against the CAS.

Today the leaders of Local 2049 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) consulted the workers they represent and, thanks to overwhelming support, announced that the labour dispute begun by Nipissing and Parry Sound CAS four months ago will continue.

“For two weeks, we believed we were working alongside the CAS towards an arbitrated solution. It was the government’s recommendation; the CAS board passed a motion in favour of it. Then yesterday the CAS shocked us by issuing its surprise ‘lose-lose’ ultimatum,” said Debbie Hill, President of CUPE 2049.

“Now, after a four-month lockout, CAS directors are telling us, come back to work, but we’ll still foist on you everything that caused the dispute in the first place – oh, and we’ll also get rid of your union at the same time.

“What can you say when you’re faced with that sort of arrogance, that sort of deception? You have to say, ‘No’.”

The terms and conditions that Nipissing and Parry Sound CAS has posted for a return to work would saddle workers with an inappropriate and harmful sick leave plan – something that would ultimately hurt services and which has been one of the major issues of the lockout. The society’s terms also remove the rights of the union from the collective agreement and fail to recognize role of the union or even which workers are unionized. To add insult to injury, the terms it wants to impose are worse than those it tabled at the beginning of bargaining in 2016.

“We have never seen anything like this,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “Even in private-sector companies, where they can claim to have profits at stake, they don’t behave with this kind of ruthlessness.

“But the people making these decisions at Nipissing and Parry Sound CAS are supposed to be concerned about the welfare of vulnerable children; they even claim to value their staff. But they’re clearly not able to negotiate a contract with their workers, or keep a promise, or even abide by instructions from their own board of directors.

“The Minister of Children and Youth Services couldn’t have a clearer sign that his ministry needs to step in and take over this agency,” concluded Hahn.