BARRIE – County workers who provide social assistance and clerical services for the County of Simcoe will be out on strike this month, if last-minute talks fail to address their concerns.
“Without a blush, the county gave management huge raises – from 20 to 40 per cent plus performance increases,” says Russ Nicholson, the acting president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3110, the union that represents county support staff. “Feeling flush with generosity, our councillors also raised their own pay by 12 per cent. The county has told us that they are only prepared to offer us 2 per cent. It’s a question of fairness. We deserve better treatment.“
The County of Simcoe asked the Ministry of Labour conciliator to file a “no board” report on the only day the parties met in conciliation. Usually, the parties try to resolve as many outstanding issues as possible in conciliation. When a no board report is filed, the countdown begins to a strike or lockout deadline.
“The county is certainly sending a disturbing signal by rushing to a strike deadline,” says Nicholson. “We have not had a proper opportunity to bargain a collective agreement. Bargaining has been completely one-sided. The two union locals have been compromising and the county has not been responding. Now, the county appears to be pushing confrontation. We have one day of talks scheduled and that is not enough time to negotiate.”
Nicholson says county workers are under a great deal of stress. “Our working conditions have deteriorated,” says Nicholson. “We are overworked and underpaid. Many of the workers are women. Many are heads of single-parent families. Morale is at its lowest. The county has ignored front-line workers for too long. We are fed up.”
Two CUPE locals are bargaining with the county. CUPE Local 2710 represents 142 social service workers who provide Ontario Works and children’s services. Members of Local 3110, 47 full-time and seven part-time, provide services in the following departments: Roads and Engineering, Planning, Environmental Services, County Library, County Museum, County Archives, and Administrative and Financial services.
A mediation meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 18. A strike deadline has been set for 12:01 a.m., February 20.
Denzil D’Souza, Staff Representative: 705-722-7387 or
, CUPE Communications:
416-292-3999 or 416-766-3252