After unsuccessful attempts at the bargaining table and at conciliation to achieve a contract for Montage Support Services, the bargaining team of OPSEU Local 597 met with a Ministry of Labour conciliation officer where they eventually requested a no board report, starting the countdown to a potential April 2nd strike.
Local President and bargaining team member, Onika Farinha, said that, “The employer did not come to the table to negotiate. They came to strip the last remaining benefits from their dwindling full-time staff and have refused to offer anything to their ever-increasing part-time workers. This is not the way negotiations should be done. Our members just want the same type of settlement that other developmental service agencies are getting across the province--no more, no less.”
In December, the members of Local 597 voted 100 per cent in favour of strike action if the employer refused to offer a similar contract at the bargaining table. Says Farinha, “The members’ message was loud and clear. They gave us a mandate to equalize wages for equal work, no matter if you are working full-time, part-time or on overnight shifts. The employer has not given us any rationale for why there should be any pay differential between these classifications and the members are frustrated at the divisiveness this causes.”
“These workers have the full support of our union,” said OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, “and we will do what it takes to ensure they get a fair contract.”
The employer and the union are still far apart on monetary issues and employer-demands regarding health benefit premiums of full-time workers are still on the table. Mediation is scheduled for March 30, 2012, just before the strike deadline. “This would be the first time that members of this local are in this position but they are vocal and standing together to be treated fairly. Although we are hoping to get a contract at mediation, we have already scheduled meetings to prepare for the possibility of a labour stoppage.”
For more information, contact Onika Farinha- President,
OPSEU Local 597 at (647) 519-5971.