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Flatly rejecting a so-called final offer from the agency, 120 front line workers with the Durham Children’s Aid Society went on strike April 26.

“The agency had made some insignificant changes to their last offer and asked the union to take it back to the members for a vote,” said CUPE 3223 president Rob Cull. “When our members saw the offer they didn’t even vote on it. They were so upset they told us to begin strike action.”

There are several outstanding issues, the major one being language to deal with increased caseloads for CAS workers. Contracting out, job security language and wages are also still on the table.

“This agency is asking 120 women and men to protect the most vulnerable children in Durham, but they’re not prepared to give us the proper tools to do that. Increased caseloads are like tying our hands behind our backs and asking us to try and do our jobs,” said Cull.

On the issue of wages, ironically, Durham CAS’ Executive Director was recently named to the $100,000 club, and received a tidy 9 per cent pay hike this year.

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Quebec municipal workers brace for municipal reform

CUPE members in Quebec are determined to protect their jobs and labour rights as the province moves to reorganize municipalities.

Delegates representing 32,000 municipal workers, including inside and outside workers, bus drivers and fire fighters, met this past week to confirm a plan of action.

The provincial minister of municipal affairs, Louise Harel, has delivered a white paper setting out a plan to reorganize and merge municipalities. With 1,300 municipalities for 7.3 million residents, CUPE agrees there are efficiencies to be gained through some mergers.

But CUPE has rejected a proposal that an arbitrator will be responsible for merging collective agreements when negotiations fail.

“This is completely unacceptable,” says Quebec regional director Gilles Charland. “We don’t need this measure. We foresee no major problems in harmonizing the collective agreements, since they are all quite similar in the large urban centres.”

CUPE has also opposed any move to weaken the protections in the Labour Code against contracting out.

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