Labour unrest at The Fort Frances Community Clinic could lead to a strike or lock out of 16 full and part time female workers who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 65.08.
Following difficult negotiations with management of The Fort Frances Community Clinic, on June 26 members of the local voted 100 per cent to strike. The bargaining teams meet with a conciliator on Wednesday, July 9, “And if we don’t get a settlement we will ask for a ‘no board’ which will put us in a strike (or lock out) position the week of July 28,” said Danny Scheibli, CUPE national representative.
“Our main problem is that our members have not received the kinds of wage increases and benefit packages they should have since this was a privately operated facility.”
In order to keep the clinic locally and publicly operated, and on behalf of the community, the City of Fort Frances contributed a $1 million interest free loan so that the privately run doctor’s clinic could be converted to a community-based clinic under the Family Health Team model under the Ministry of Health. “The community deserves this health facility and our members deserve a fair wage and benefit package for the work they do,” Scheibli continued.
Currently CUPE 65.08 members lag far behind other CUPE health care workers in Fort Frances in wages – upwards of $5.00 in some cases, and benefits, pensions, pregnancy, parental and jury duty leave and vacation time.
“Our members have suffered substandard wages and working conditions for too long, with the Clinic operating well, now is the time to begin to narrow the difference between our members and other health care workers and to bring a degree of comparability to the Fort Frances Community Clinic workers.
“Our members are proud of the job we do, proud to be part of the Community Clinic and proud to serve our community,” said Cathy Tucker, unit chair for CUPE 65.08. “We want to stay on the job and continue to serve our community, but we must have a fair settlement, we have gone far too long with second-rate wages and benefits – we deserve what others get.”