Winnipeg: Frontline workers at Osborne House have voted overwhelmingly to strike.
The 47 staff who help abused women and children have been in contract negotiations since April 2005. Negotiations have stalled over wages and benefits.
“Our members want to focus their efforts on providing assistance and support, not put their jobs on the line to get the government to acknowledge how important these programs are,” according to CUPE National Representative Mark Kernaghan. “I always thought of Osborne House as more than a safe harbour during the storm – but also a place that helps women find a safe passage. It appears to me that those in charge don’t want to protect the harbour anymore.”
The Union has proposed improvements to the existing Collective Agreement including wage parity with others working in domestic violence programs. The Employer has responded with no monetary improvements.
According to Kernaghan, “It really boils down to Government funding for women’s shelters. We have been told the shelters are important, but there isn’t the funding to pay fair wages. It doesn’t make sense.”
Collective bargaining with the help of a Conciliation Officer is scheduled to continue later this month. If there is no progress, the Union will give notice of strike action to follow.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest Union representing more than a half-million women and men. In Manitoba, CUPE represents 24,000 members working in health care facilities, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services. CUPE represents frontline workers in three women’s shelters and other social service agencies that deal with domestic violence.
For more information, contact:
Mark Kernaghan, National Representative at 942-0343
Dennis Lewycky, CUPE Communications at 223-6805