FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 22, 2005
Staff at St. Joseph's Mental Health vow to fight to maintain contract
Despite a $24 million funding surplus, St. Joseph's Regional Mental Health Care in London - St. Thomas has begun handing out layoff notices in a bid to avoid their contract obligations.
St. Joseph's has given 13 layoff notices while simultaneously posting new part-time jobs as it's latest salvo to undermine a union grievance regarding overtime. The 13 layoffs come in the wake of last week's revelation that 72 such positions would be put at stake if St. Joseph's were forced to abide by the terms of its
More than 350 Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 152 members packed a meeting Wednesday night to express their outrage at the heavy-handed manner in which St. Joseph's was taking away their rights and vowed to fight this latest attempt to squeeze concessions from its workers.
"If this employer thinks they can bully their way out of their legal obligations, then they are about to receive a rude surprise," said OPSEU President Leah Casselman. "The message from our members is clear - no concessions."
The union estimates that more than $2 million in back pay is owed to its members at St. Joseph's under the collective agreement.
"How is it that St. Joseph's can sign a contract and then complain it has no money to honour the terms of that contract?" asks Casselman. "If they didn't budget for this overtime, then clearly somebody has messed up. Why should our members pay for this?"
Last week St. Joseph's officials toured the mental health facilities, telling the workers that the union was to blame for new changes to their schedules, and the withdrawal of present vacation approvals. The employer claims that these changes were necessary to eliminate any liability around overtime, however, the new
schedules also put employees in overtime situations.
"St. Joseph's should stop attempting to scare its workers and bashing the union. We urge them to sit down and resolve these issues with OPSEU," says Casselman. "Labour relations have steadily deteriorated since St. Joseph's took over the responsibility for regional mental health services in London-St. Thomas. It seems
we have yet to hit rock bottom."
For more information
Rick Janson (OPSEU Communications) 416-443-8888 ext 8207
Dave Erskine (Local 152 President) 519-765-8660
Rob Kinnear (OPSEU Sector Rep) at 519-649-7770.