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PEMBROKE The Union representing twenty-three employees at the Renfrew Housing Corporation is disappointed with their Employer’s decision to end negotiation talks last week and start a countdown to a work stoppage.

“Talks were progressing better than they had before,” said Bill Jamieson, president of Local 4425 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “The Union still believes a settlement can be reached if the employer will come back to the negotiation table.”

The Union is concerned the County is trying to force a lockout or strike on the community. “We have seen evidence the Employer is preparing to hire scabs and unknown subcontractors,” says the CUPE National Representative for the Local Susan Arab. “That does not bode well for the future of labour relations in this community and it could lead to a long and costly labour dispute.”

Talks between CUPE and the Renfrew County Housing Corporation broke off last week after the Employer walked away from the table at the conciliation stage of negotiation talks. The Employer also requested a “no board” report from the Ministry of Labour conciliation officer. This move begins the process of putting the parties in a legal strike or lockout position. As soon as the Ministry of Labour acts on the Employer’s request and issues a “no-board” report, a 17-day lockout/strike countdown will begin.

A shutdown would hurt communities across Renfrew County, including Pembroke, Arnprior, Renfrew, Barry’s Bay, Palmers Rapids, Eganville, Cobden, Beachburg and Deep River.

The Renfrew Housing Corporation is demanding major concessions from the Union in terms of benefits and vacation leave. “This Employer is trying to take thousands of dollars out of every employee’s pocket by cutting benefits, eliminating the long term disability (LTD) plan and reducing vacations,” says Arab. “They also do not seem prepared to discuss our proposals around job security.”

“Wages are not the issue here,” says Jamieson, pointing out the two sides are not far apart on wage rates. “We’re fighting for basic job security and trying to hang on to what we have. We care about the residents and the services we provide, and the last thing we want to do is go on strike.”

“Our members have been giving the Housing Corporation good and loyal service for years,” adds Jamieson. “They are committed to their jobs and the services they provide. A number have been with the Corporation more than twenty-five years, but it looks like our Employer is preparing to lock us out or force us into a crippling strike that would have a devastating impact on our local economy.”

The Union is willing to meet to try to resolve these differences. “Nobody wants a work stoppage if it can be avoided,” says Arab. “We are prepared to meet with them at any time to try to get a settlement.”


For further information, please contact:
Susan Arab, CUPE National Rep.
613-237-0115 x 233 - 416-565-8391 (cell)
Bill Jamieson, Local 4425 President
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications