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Send your warm wishes to striking group home workers in Regina who have been left out in the cold by their employer.

REGINA:  Striking group home workers at Cheshire Homes in Regina have been on a bitterly cold picket line since January 19 because their employer can’t find the time to negotiate a fair settlement.

Send them your warm wishes and solidarity as they enter their fourth week on the picket line. Email your messages to CUPE Local 3207 President Margaret Mukakigeli.

The 35 group home workers, members of CUPE Local 3207, thought they were close to a settlement on February 6, but once again the employer adjourned conciliation talks, stating it needed more time to consult with the board.

We were stunned they did that,” says local president Margaret Mukakigeli. “It is so disrespectful of the staff and the residents.”

It’s the third time since the strike began on January 19 that the employer has postponed talks. The last time the two sides met, January 25, the employer delayed conciliation talks for nine days. “The employer is really showing us what they are made of and it is not impressive,” says Mukakigeli.

The Saskatchewan government gave group homes significantly more money last year to improve wages and benefits. Cheshire Homes, which operates five homes in Regina for people with mental and physical challenges, received an additional $97,000. The improved funding represented about a 17 per cent increase for the workers, who earn a starting salary of $8.55 an hour.

But the employer refused to pass the increases on to its employees, stating it could only offer 2%. Although the employer has improved its wage offer since the strike began, it wants to exclude one employee – the local president – from the initial wage increase.

It’s disgraceful,” says CUPE staff representative Mike Keith. “The employer’s actions at this bargaining table continue to demonstrate the need for the provincial government to play a much stronger role in managing these agencies.”

In the meantime, CUPE Saskatchewan is hosting “An Act of Warmth Solidarity Luncheon” for the strikers on Tuesday. Guests are bringing woolen socks, thermal underwear, coffee mugs and other gifts to the strikers as “an act of warmth.”
Send them your warm wishes all this week! For more information contact Beth Smillie at 306-382-8262 via email.