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Kincardine After more than a month with no face-to-face negotiations and a 32-day strike, Westario hydro workers will be heading back to the bargaining table tomorrow.

We are trying to go into tomorrow with an open mind. But the reality is that little has changed from when negotiations broke off in August. The employer is still playing hardball and pushing contracting out, says Jim Keenan, a negotiator with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the union representing 36 Westario administrative and line maintenance workers who are members of CUPE Local 255.

At issue is the renewal of a letter of understanding between Westario and CUPE 255 that contains job protection clauses including no layoffs and no contracting out of the work now done by CUPE 255 members. When negotiations broke off in August, renewal of the letter was the sole outstanding issue. The two sides already had agreement on wages and the duration of the contract.

Now we are hearing rumblings that Westario is going after a two-year contract instead of the three-year deal, which is what they had originally agreed to. If, after a month-long strike, management is coming back to the table reneging on the original deal and still holding out for concessions, Im not very optimistic that we will succeed in reaching a settlement. Our members are very steadfast in their position, says Keenan.

CUPE and Westario negotiators will be meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, September 21) in Port Elgin at the Super 8 Motel beginning at 10:00 a.m.


For more information, please contact:
Jim Keenan, CUPE National Representative - (705) 790-0056
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications - (416) 578-8774