Ontario’s hospital workers have voted overwhelming in favour of strike action to increase their low-level wages and protect their jobs from privatization.
However they are exploring every avenue to avoid a strike and settle their contract dispute through negotiations. No strike action is being planned before late January, 1999.
CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions is bargaining jointly with the Service Employees’ international Union (SEIU).
Eighty per cent of the 70 per cent of hospital workers who cast ballots voted to go on strike, if necessary. Provincial legislation prohibits strike action.
The unoins are asking for a decent wage increase and protection from the contracting out of their jobs by profit-making private firms.
They are also objecting to a radical revision in how arbitrators are chosen. These arbitrators are responsible for deciding the content of hospital worker contracts and interpreting the contracts. Recently the government has decided to replace experienced Labour Ministry arbitrators with retired judges chosen by the government. This has removed the bargaining system’s impartiality.