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TIMMINS, ON - Cochrane District Community Care could be hit by a strike or lockout at the end of the month, after 22 members of Local 3994 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) voted 92 per cent in favour of strike action if a collective agreement cannot be reached before 12:01 am, January 30th.

Negotiations with the help of a provincial conciliator failed to reach a settlement, said Francine Toulgoat, CUPE 3994 spokesperson. We had no choice but to start the countdown to a strike, and we hope our employer will come back to the table with a fair deal before its too late. The workers have been working without a contract since April 1, 2004.

Outstanding contract issues include wages, payment in lieu of benefits for part-time workers, bereavement leave, and wage parity for therapists. The workers provide speech therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work and clerical services at the community care access centre (CCAC), serving the communities of Timmins, Kapuskasing, Iroquois Falls, Hearst, Moosonee and surrounding communities. Case management and client relations at the centre would also be affected by a strike.

Rates of pay for our therapists are below the average for similar therapists across Ontario by about $4.50 an hour, said Toulgoat. Part-time workers have not had an increase in their payments in lieu of benefits since 1984. We need to bridge those gaps to avoid a strike.

We urge area residents to talk to local politicians about the importance of settling this dispute before services are disrupted, said Toulgoat. The last thing we want is a strike, but at some point we have to think about providing for our own families, and sometimes that means fighting for fairness and equality.


For further information, please contact:
Fran Ludwick, CUPE National Rep.CUPE Timmins Office - 705-264-1269
Francine Toulgoat, CUPE 3994 Spokesperson - 705-465-2266
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications - 416-292-3999