LEAMINGTON, Ont. – A strike by social service and community support workers at South Essex Community Council, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), seems inevitable after mediation talks failed to reach a settlement with management. Unless the employer presents the union with an improved offer, the workers are set to walk off the job Monday, November 14th.
“Management made no moves to settle our contract dispute, offering no percentage wage increase, no improvements to benefits and no movement on a pension plan,” said Jane Swan, president of CUPE 4523. “They are trying to push a seven-year wage grid, without providing any details about what their grid would mean for individual members.” The employer refused to adequately address the issue of wage equality and could not or would not provide financial details of a proposed wage grid, stating the person responsible for calculating the information would be on vacation until after the strike/lockout deadline.
“The only way to prevent a strike now is for the employer to come back with an improved offer before the 14th of November, and time is running out,” said Swan. The union is scheduled to meet the employer again on November 10th to receive their final offer, which will be presented to Local 4523 members for a vote. “Unless there are major improvements, we are ready to hit the bricks on Monday to fight for fair wages,” said Swan. Picket lines are set to go up Monday morning at South Essex Community Council headquarters, 215 Talbot Street, in Leamington.
The 46 full-time and part-time workers provide social services, youth job placement, transportation services for differently abled and senior citizens (Erie Shore Transit), childcare, literacy and language learning, settlement programs for newcomers, meals on wheels, translation, coordination of volunteers and other community support services. The agency serves the communities of Leamington, Kingsville and Wheatley and surrounding areas. Some services are also offered in Windsor, and most programs are delivered in conjunction with municipal, provincial and federal government agencies.
“By forcing us into a strike situation, our employer is jeopardizing the services our clients rely on,” said Swan. “If management doesn’t come to us with an improved offer, they’re really creating a crisis for the people in our communities who rely on our services.” CUPE is urging clients and community groups to contact the board of directors and Executive Director Mike Hamelin to urge them to do what’s necessary to prevent a strike.
For further information, please contact:
CUPE National Representative
519-966-9595 (o) - 519-991-6893