FREDERICTON, NB. – New Brunswickers could soon be without the service of the Red Cross home support workers.
Earlier this month, the workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 4598 voted in favor of a strike action.
“A strike action seems unavoidable, explained Louise Thibodeau, CUPE representative. We have been trying for more than two years to negotiate a collective agreement with the Red Cross.”
“This spring, the Minister of Family and Community Services, Tony Huntjens, promised to invest more money in this service–10 per cent over three years, more money for salaries and benefits. This promise never materialized at the bargaining table”, explained Thibodeau.
“A home support worker with 10 years of experience earns $8.29 an hour and those with less than five years of experience earn $7.96. They work an average of 20 hours a week. They don’t get any sick leave, pension plan and the Red Cross refuses to help them with the cost of gasoline and insurance premiums”, added Thibodeau.
“Some of them travel up to 50 kilometers a day to visit their clients. With the price of the gasoline, they almost can’t afford to work anymore.”
CUPE 4598 is asking the Bernard Lord Government to keep its promise to adequately finance home care services. “We don’t want to deprive our elders and the needy of our services. But some of our members earn starvation salaries.”
“We are meeting Minister Huntjens and the Human Resources Minister Rose-May Poirier tomorrow, in a last effort to avoid a strike. The ball is in their camp. It is the Government’s responsibility to adequately finance this service,” concluded Thibodeau.
CUPE 4598 represents 300 home support workers in Richibouctou, Miramichi, Acadian Peninsula, Bathurst, Campbellton, Edmundston and Grand Falls.
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