FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 23, 2002
Union lifts blackout to boost drive to settlement
TORONTO - The union representing striking Ontario Public Service employees is lifting the media blackout on contract talks in a bid to bring about a quick settlement.
“Employer negotiators told us Sunday that they had ‘tapped out their mandate’ despite the fact we have no settlement,” said Leah Casselman, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. “It’s time to shine a light on the government’s demands so we can get this thing wrapped up.”
Casselman said “mystifying” statements by Premier Ernie Eves and Management Board Chair David Tsubouchi suggest they may be unaware of the real issues in play.
”Our bargaining teams had hoped that having a new Premier, one who says he is committed to listening, would create real change at the bargaining table,” said Casselman. “It hasn’t. The same bureaucrats are playing the same games they were playing before. They are still not listening.”
OPSEU has charged Management Board Assistant Deputy Minister Kevin Wilson with an unfair labour practice for his role in miscommunication around bargaining.
Casselman invited Eves to intervene directly in the talks to sweep away the remaining roadblocks to a settlement. Key issues remaining are:
- Pensions. The employer is demanding control of the employee share of surpluses in the OPSEU Pension Trust. This concession alone could cost union members $140 million in pension improvements in an average year.
- Benefits. The employer is demanding $11 million in concessions in exchange for $1.8 million in improvements. The employer’s offer on benefits is less than that already agreed to with two other public service bargaining units (PEGO and AMAPCEO).
- Part-time contract employees. The union is demanding modest improvements for the most exploited workers in the public service. The two sides are less than $4 million apart.
- Wages. The two sides are 1.55 per cent apart on basic pay in the first year, and a mere 0.55 per cent apart in each of years two and three. The employer’s basic wage offer is a 1.95 per cent increase in each year of a three-year collective agreement, plus one per cent for “productivity and efficiency
gains” in the first year only. The union’s demand is 2.5 per cent per year plus two per cent in exchange for “productivity and efficiency gains” in the first year only.
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For more information:
David Cox (416) 443-8888 ext. 314, (416) 788-9197; Randy Robinson (416) 448-7441, (416) 788-9134; Katie FitzRandolph (416) 448-7440, (416) 788-9057.