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ITUNA, SK CUPE group home workers in Ituna applied to the labour relations board for first contract assistance this morning and returned to work at Deer Park Villa, ending a strike that has lasted more than seven months.

CUPE members at Deer Park Villa walked off the job June 3, after the employer refused to bargain language in the first collective agreement that would ensure the fair application of seniority in its hiring practices.

Deer Park Villa operates three group homes and an activity centre in Ituna for adults with mental and physical challenges. It receives funding from the provincial government.

The 23 group home workers, members of CUPE 4552, decided to return to work today and pursue the labour relations board option for the sake of the group home residents and the community.

Although we know our cause is reasonable and just, it appears the employer would rather continue the dispute indefinitely than negotiate a fair settlement, says union spokesperson Moira Markle. We are not prepared to let that happen.

Markle says the strikers decided to apply for first contract assistance so the group home residents could return to their homes and resume their daily routines.

Every day of our strike, we hoped this would be the day the employer would agree to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair settlement. But after 221 days on the picket line, we are now convinced the employer will not voluntarily agree to a settlement. In the interests of our residents and the community, we needed to return to work and pursue other options to achieve a contract.

The union expects the labour board will appoint a conciliator to assist the two sides reach an agreement. The board also has the power to impose a first contract.

For more information contact:
Moira Markle at 306-675-4421 or Aina Kagis at 306-536-8226