THUNDER BAY, ON Striking social service and mental health workers, represented by Local 3253 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), overwhelmingly rejected the last contract offer from North of Superior Programs, confirming the decision of their negotiating team in mediation talks last November. The count was 26 to 1 against the offer in a vote supervised by the ministry of Labour yesterday.
We knew our members would stand by the negotiating team, and our employer should have known it as well, said Diane Atkinson, CUPE 3253 spokesperson. Since our strike began last June, management has failed to seize every opportunity to settle this strike, and yesterdays vote was another example of their inability to resolve the crisis. Yesterdays rejection vote was over 96 per cent, even higher than the original 93 per cent strike vote last June.
NOSP management earlier refused the unions offer to send outstanding issues to arbitration, applying instead to the ministry of Labour for a supervised vote on their last contract offer, one that had already been rejected by CUPE 3253s negotiating committee.
Instead of moving towards a settlement, our employer has been spending public money on legal wrangling and ads that dont reflect reality theyre only prolonging the strike, said Atkinson. Adding a one-time, lump-sum payment to inflate their percentage increase and including reimbursement for unpaid leave, does not change their final offer of 0, 0, 2.3 and 2 per cent over four years. That does nothing to make up for the ground weve lost over the past ten years, with no real wage increases.
On strike since June 26, 2004, the 30 workers normally provide mental health counselling, addiction counselling, gambling counselling, and integrated services for northern children (ISNC), in communities along the North Shore, including Nipigon, Longlac, Geraldton, Terrace Bay, Marathon, Manitouwadge and surrounding communities.
Its hard to see how this strike will end without the provincial government getting involved, said CUPE National Representative Dan Pike. The Ontario Liberal government is ultimately responsible for delivering these essential services to the people of 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