Tomorrow (March 7) will see negotiators for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Children’s Aid Society back at the bargaining table in an attempt to end the lockout that began over ten weeks ago, on December 23.
Negotiations between the parties last took place over the weekend of February 10, but ended on February 12, when a consultant for Nipissing and Parry Sound CAS e-mailed CUPE’s representative to say “the employer sees no value in returning to the table at this time.”
Since then, the union has been making its case to the people and agencies who hold responsibility for child protection services, including MPPs, the Minister of Children and Youth Services, and the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth.
“We believe we’ve been heard across the province and that the momentum is there to achieve a deal, if our good will is matched even in part by the Children’s Aid Society of the District of Nipissing and Parry Sound,” said Debbie Hill, president of CUPE 2049.
The lockout of child welfare workers in the districts of Nipissing and Parry Sound is now in its eleventh week. Reports of deteriorating services are heard daily by locked-out workers on the picket line and CUPE members are increasingly alarmed about potential lasting damage to vulnerable children, youth and families.
The union’s contract proposals have changed significantly since the lockout began and are currently focused on reaching a deal that protects vital services by providing fairness for workers.
For child protection workers at Nipissing and Parry Sound CAS, that means all unionized employees at the society having the same terms and conditions; retaining province-wide provisions that all other CAS workers have; and a workload management plan that is tailored to the nature of work in northern Ontario.