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The health and safety of womens shelter workers and residents should not be compromised because of government funding cuts. That was the message from speakers at a rally in support of 30 striking employees of the Yorktown Shelter for Abused Women in Toronto.

The counsellors and social workers, members of CUPE 3878, began their strike on June 14 when talks broke off over a management proposal to reduce overnight staffing from two workers to one.

The Yorktown shelter houses 32 residents and is one of the largest shelters for abused immigrant and visible minority women in the city. The women and their children have been displaced to other womens shelters and the executive director “has little concern for their well-being and stability. She has placed her right to manage over the needs of abused women and the safety of staff,” said Sharon Simpson, a social worker at the shelter. She told the gathering the decision to strike was difficult.

“We are trained to help others and keeping the shelter closed doesnt help the women and children we care about. But we believe this is a just cause and we will not be broken by a managing agency that doesnt understand that reducing staff to one person on the overnight shift would jeopardize the safety of staff and residents,” said Simpson.

Stella Yeadon