TORONTO - Union members who work with developmentally handicapped adults in the Scarborough-Beaches area have voted 89 per cent in favour of strike in response to the employer's latest contract offer.
The 140 employees of Surex Community Services are "upset and angry" at the employer's offer of a one per cent wage increase over two years, and only under the condition that the employer lay off two full-time employees to pay for it.
"We are pretty frustrated," said John Keating, president of OPSEU Local 5102 which represents members at Surex. "We can't even get contract provisions on basic human rights, like a prohibition on harassment and discrimination. We've only had six days of bargaining. This offer of one per cent, paid for by layoffs, is insulting."
Along with human rights language, the union is looking for recognition for part-time staff, which make up 75 per cent of the work force. This includes benefits and better scheduling of hours.
"Our members are a dedicated group of professionals who are proud of the services they provide," said Leah Casselman, President of OPSEU. "No one wants a strike or any disruption to service. However, we will not stand idly by while services and working conditions deteriorate."
The current contract expired March 31, 2005. Conciliation dates have been set for April 11 and April 18, 2005, and no strike date has been set.
Surex Community Services, which is funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, operates nine residential group homes and a day program centre. Surex provides services for 75 developmentally handicapped clients.
For further information:
Judy Storey-Paul, OPSEU Staff Representative (416) 928-2481