OTTAWA Were tired and were not going to take it anymore. Thats the mood of Canadas largest union as it released a new Ekos Research poll that shows public sector workers are reeling from work overload.
In some sectors, workload is reaching epidemic proportions, warned Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Long hours of overtime and constant pressure to speed up has a huge impact on workers and their families. This is the number one issue affecting our members quality of working life.
Armed with poll results that show 83 per cent of public sector workers in key sectors want workload made a top priority, CUPE plans to take the issue to the bargaining table in hundreds of workplaces. Some local unions are prepared to make it a strike issue.
The Japanese have a word for this karoshi, which means death by overwork, Darcy said. Its time we recognize how serious the problem is in Canada and stop putting public sector workers at risk.
Public sector jobs have been slashed in recent years and our members cant continue to do more with less, she added. We need more staff, improved wages and we need to ensure that families with young children can get quality child care.
The poll shows that more than half of public sector workers see their workload as heavy and growing. Concern is greatest among health care and social service workers, but education and government workers also report heavier workloads than those in the private sector.
For health care workers added duties and increased demand top the list of causes for overwork while for government and education workers staff cuts also play a big part. More than three-quarters of education workers and two-thirds of health care workers say that workload pressures are taking a toll on their physical health.
Our members are sick and tired from overwork, said Darcy. Theyre passionate about wanting to deliver quality services but their workloads simply wont allow it. For health care workers, social workers and many others, this isnt just a question of pride. This can be a matter of life and death.