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OTTAWA, Ont. – A two-tier wage system is developing at Ottawa’s Montfort Long-term Care Centre as management tries to skirt a recent arbitration award by contracting out support services to a new company, says the union that represents 30 workers providing dietary, cleaning, laundry and maintenance services.

If management wants to ignore our arbitration award and use a new company to do its dirty work, then we have no choice but to step up our campaign for justice,” said Richard Gauthier, National Representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 4429 that represents the workers.

Montfort contracted out the long-term facility to Central Park Lodge/Central Care Corporation (CPL), who in turn contracted out dietary, laundry and housekeeping services to Compass Group. That contract expires February 11, 2007. Starting February 12, Nova Services Group will hold the contract to provide support services at the centre.

We are considered an essential service so we don’t have the right to strike, and these companies are taking advantage of this by skirting our arbitration award to make profits by underpaying its hard-working employees,” Gauthier said. “These are textbook unfair labour pracices.”

Gauthier said the good news is that virtually all of the CUPE members have been hired back.

We’re happy that Nova has hired back these dedicated and committed workers, and are sure the company will be pleased with their performance,” said Gauthier. “But we will not allow Nova to drag us backwards and away from the arbitration award that is rightfully ours. We will fight for justice for these workers.”

The November 2006 arbitration award was a major victory for some of Ontario’s lowest-paid health care workers. The award raised the wages of dietary and housekeeping workers, for example, from $8.25 - $10 per hour to $16.63 per hour, a wage similar to other workers in the sector. In fact, housekeeping workers at the Montfort Hospital, just next door, make $16.80 per hour.

This two-tier wage system is the Montfort’s shame, and we are not going to let them off the hook no matter how hard they wriggle,” Gauthier said.

For more information, please contact:

Richard Gauthier
CUPE National Representative
(613)63-1285 (cell)

David Robbins
CUPE Communications
(613)78-1431 (cell)