Grinch with box labelled CUPE Retro Pay
Photograph: Alex Lisman

4600 front-line Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) staff are owed millions of dollars in retroactive wages on their paycheques before the end of 2022. But even though an arbitrated award provides that the retro money must be paid prior to December 25, 2022, HHS says that hospital staff who are members of CUPE 7800 won’t be getting those wages in time for the Christmas holiday.

The hospital central award between CUPE and the Ontario Hospital Association  (OHA) and its participating hospitals including HHS, was released early in November. Dozens of other Ontario hospitals where CUPE represents members have complied with the Christmas retro payment deadline.

“We think HHS should be doing better to meet the retro pay deadline. Inflation is eating away at hospital workers’ modest wages, and this is money rightly owed 4600 of HHS’ staff who’ve all worked diligently in a pandemic. These are the same dedicated workers who have endured a cut in pay under a provincial wage cap law that was just deemed unconstitutional by the court,” says CUPE 7800 president, Jillian Watt.

At a media conference on Monday outside the HHS Hamilton General Hospital campus, Watt was joined by CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU-CUPE) president Michael Hurley. He is the lead negotiator for CUPE’s nearly 40,000 hospital sector members whose local unions bargain centrally with the OHA.

Also popping by the Monday event was none other than The Grinch. The well-known book character is a reminder to HHS to not steal Christmas from thousands of their front-line staff and speed up getting the retroactive pay into workers’ paycheques.