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(New Glasgow) – Employees of Highland Community Residential Services (HCRS) say their employer’s practice of paying them for five hours work on a 10-hour overnight shift should be illegal - and the members of CUPE Local 2330 are mounting a public campaign to highlight the unfair practice.

Local 2330 spokesperson Margie Daley says, “We are in bargaining with HCRS and this is so important it has become a strike issue for us. We also believe the Department of Community Services, which funds the agency, is turning a blind eye to this form of wage discrimination.”

Says Daley, “This employer expects Residential Counsellors who work in group homes and small options homes on an overnight shift from 11:00 pm to 9:00 am, not be paid for the hours between 1:00 am and 6:00 am because they are supposed be ‘asleep’ during that time.

Of course there is no consideration given to the fact that we work with clients who have physical and mental disabilities, some of whom have aggressive behaviour and very high needs. When you are working alone in this kind of setting, trust me, there is no kind of sleep going on,” says Daley.

I think most people would agree that in this day and age, employees should get paid for each hour they are at work, and not for 50% of their shift. We have some instances where employees can work 40 hours for free in a month,” she says. “It’s outrageous.”

CUPE will be launching an information campaign to bring this issue to the attention of the public, and the Minister of Community Services, Judy Streatch.

Members of Local 2330 at HCRS are back at the bargaining table in conciliation on September 25. They have already voted 80% in favour of strike action if they do not get this and other outstanding issues resolved with their employer.

For information:

Margie Daley,  Local 2330, (902) 396-4870 (h)

Carl Crouse, CUPE National Rep., (902) 752-2244 (o)

John McCracken, CUPE Communications Rep., (902) 455-4180 (o)