Thunder Bay, Ont. Union negotiators for 30 social service and mental health workers at North of Superior Programs (NOSP) are in disbelief after North of Superior Programs (NOSP) management walked away from mediation talks, rejecting union proposals to solve the crisis.
At five months and counting of a strike that is hurting communities all along the north shore of Lake Superior, management continues to offer no wage increases for the first two years, and paltry amounts in the two final years of their contract offer its unconscionable, said Diane Atkinson, a social worker and spokesperson for Local 3253 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). With the ground weve already lost to inflation, this insulting offer would make us fall even further behind.
Im at a loss for words to express how frustrated and angry I feel, said CUPE National Representative Dan Pike. This Executive Director continues to collect her high salary while our members are on the picket line, and the longer she prolongs the strike, the easier her job is, with no services to offer and no staff to supervise. CUPE has called on the Ontario Liberal government to step in and take over the agency, following board meetings that failed to achieve quorum. Several positions on the board of directors remain vacant.
Theres no doubt the communities we serve are hurting, said Atkinson. Theyre not being represented and so far, local MPPs have failed to make their own government listen. Whats it going to take for them to realize how serious a crisis this is? On strike since June 26th, the workers normally offer mental health, addiction counselling and integrated services for children in communities along the north shore of Lake Superior, from Nipigon to Manitouwadge, including Geraldton, Longlac and Nakina.
We thank the communities for their support and understanding during our struggle, said Atkinson. We urge residents to sign the petition to urge the Ontario government to take over NOSP, before its too late. Without our services, theres an increased risk of suicide and other tragic consequences for our communities, and the risk is even greater during the Christmas season thats upon us. Local Liberal MPPs wont look too good in the public inquiry that would be sure to follow such a tragedy.
Its clearly past the time for the government to step in, added Pike. This director and this board of directors is either incapable or unwilling to settle the strike and restore these essential services in the North.
For further information, please contact:
Dan Pike, CUPE National Rep. - 807-345-1731 - 613-293-3535 (cell)
Diane Atkinson, CUPE 3253 Spokesperson - 807-229-7933 (cell)
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications - 416-292-3999