FREDERICTON, NB. – Bathurst Red Cross home support workers and their supporters participated in a noon hour solidarity rally, to raise awareness of their struggle for better working conditions.
Dressed in black, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 4598 marched in downtown Bathurst to draw attention to their second week on strike.
“Home support workers shouldn’t have to be on strike. You provide important services to your clients. Because of the quality of care you give, the government saves millions in hospitalization fees and long term care”, said National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux, who joined the strikers on the picket line today.
“Home support services should be under the government’s wing and not contracted out to private agencies”, said Généreux. “With the price of gas and insurance premiums, how does the Red Cross expect its home support workers to be able to provide for their families?‘’
Généreux also took the opportunity to announce that CUPE will contribute $50,000 to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. “With the Red Cross situation in New Brunswick, we are considering contributing to another humanitarian agency like Oxfam Canada. We can’t contribute to the Red Cross when the agency keeps the workers below the poverty line”, he added.
Généreux reminded the group that CUPE is committed to public health care including home support services and assured the group of the support of CUPE members.
The main issues are the wages and the benefits. A Red Cross home support worker with 10 years of experience earns $8.29 an hour. The Red Cross refuses to help them with the cost of gasoline and insurance. They also don’t get any sick days or other benefits.
Local 4598 represents 300 Home Support Workers from Richibouctou, Miramichi, Acadian Peninsula, Bathurst, Campbellton, Edmundston and Grand Falls. The local has been trying to negotiate a collective agreement for more than two years.
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