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Victoria library to lock out CUPE 410

The board running Victoria’s public libraries has voted to lock out CUPE 410, starting Sunday, February 17.

The union has been in a legal strike position since September 7, 2007, but has engaged only in rotating strikes, information pickets as well as some other creative protests.

The union recently cancelled its “Food for Fines” program after BC’s Labour Board ruled that it was not a legal job action.

CUPE 1251 gets tentative agreement

The union representing the New Brunswick Community College custodians, correctional officers and human services counsellors and the provincial government have reached a tentative agreement.

CUPE 1251’s 500 members have been on strike since January 10, 2008.   The main issue was wages.  The ratification vote was to take place February 14.

CUPE Ontario pushes for long-term care and staffing standards

CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan denounced the McGuinty government for announcing more consultation on long-term care, as workers held information pickets across the province to demand a staffing and care standard.

Ryan pointed out that the government had already done plenty of consultation before it enacted the Long-Term Care Act in June 2007.

Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman has repeatedly promised a staffing and care standard, Ryan said, including during the 2003 and 2007 elections.

Despite this, the government’s latest round of consultations - led by Shirley Sharkey - give no indication that a minimum standard of care is being considered.

CUPE Ontario wants the province to implement a care standard of an average of three-and-a-half hours of care per day per resident - the same standard as Alberta, New Brunswick and Manitoba.

CUPE Ontario’s surveys suggest 86 per cent of caregivers have worked short-handed anywhere from once to 20 times a month. Fifteen per cent say they have not been able to meet all resident care needs each day because of understaffing.

Saskatchewan government attacks union rights

The Saskatchewan Party government has introduced two laws that take away the right to strike from thousands of public sector workers and make it harder for workers to form unions.

CUPE Saskatchewan released a report this week that called Bills 5 and 6 “the most aggressive assault on labour rights this province has ever seen.”

The report “strongly recommends” the government not proceed with the legislation until an independent committee has reviewed the bills and held public hearings.

Bill 5 would take the right to strike from thousands of public sector workers by declaring their work “essential”.

In a province where 96 per cent of public sector settlements occur without work stoppages and unions routinely negotiate essential services agreement with employers, the bill seems like a solution looking for a problem.

Meanwhile, Bill 6 eliminates card-based certification and gives employers the right to communicate with employees about organizing drives.

Download the report here: http://cupe.ca/updir/Tilt.pdf

BC throne speech puts health care on the market

The BC government announced plans to make hospitals compete for patients in its recent throne speech.

The Hospital Employees Union said the so-called “patient-centered funding model” will lead to service cuts and huge administrative costs.

The union points to Britain’s experience with this funding scheme - where public hospitals are forced to compete for patients with each other and for-profit clinics - as evidence.

In Britain, private clinics “cherry pick” patients who require lower cost procedures, leaving many public hospitals unable to sustain more complex procedures and programs for patients with chronic conditions.

Britain’s former health secretary Frank Dobson confirmed that forced competition has slowed down the spread of useful innovations as hospitals guard their competitive advantages.

Dobson also said that costs of tracking patients and services under the market model had increased administrative costs from four per cent to 15 per cent of the health budget.

Quebec liquor board professionals join CUPE

Six hundred technical and professional employees of Québec’s liquor agency, the Société des alcools du Québec, have voted to join CUPE.

The workers were represented by an independent trade union, but have been without a contract for four and a half years.

The union has filed the request for certification with the Québec labour board, which must verify the union’s membership evidence before granting CUPE the right to represent the SAQ workers.

CUPE already represents the SAQ’s warehouse workers.

:te/cope 491