MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – The Canadian Red Cross Mississauga-Halton Branch is threatening to leave dialysis patients and others who rely on its transportation services without necessary rides by imposing a lockout/strike deadline on drivers and personal assistants.
Sixty-one employees who joined the Canadian Union of Public Employees last year are trying to negotiate their first collective agreement. Red Cross management filed for a “no board” report, setting the clock ticking toward May 28 as the day they can lock out their transportation workers.
“It is true that personal assistants recently received a raise, but that’s because the minimum wage increased,” said CUPE National Representative Helen Gibb-Gavel. “These 14 women do not make a penny more than the minimum. Without them, individuals who are physically mobile but cannot use public transit because of other disabilities will be stuck at home.”
Rides for dialysis patients, seniors attending day programs and others are provided by 47 drivers. The majority earn less than $13 an hour, far less than drivers with Region of Peel TransHelp.
“Virtually all of these workers are immigrants and persons of colour,” said Gibb-Gavel. “No one is more aware of difficult economic conditions than these members who are trying to support their families and build a better future in Canada. They’re asking for fairness and respect. The employer’s response is to threaten a lockout.”
The union and Red Cross meet again with a provincially-appointed mediator on Tuesday, May 25 to try to reach an agreement that will avert a lockout or strike.
“We hope the Red Cross will see some sense and put a better offer on the table so that important, and often life-saving, transportation services will remain uninterrupted for people in Mississauga and Halton,” Gibb-Gavel said.
For more information, contact:
Helen Gibb-Gavel, CUPE National Representative, 905-568-4664; cell 905-242-4207
Pat Daley, CUPE Communications, 416-616-6142