Ontario Public Service
OPSEU President demands respect for Ontario Public Service workers
September 6, 2012
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas has addressed
the following letter to Minister of Government Services, Harinder
Takhar. Condemning the attack on retirement savings and cuts to
wages, it also decries the lack of respect for the health and safety
concerns of Correctional Officers and staff at Hamilton Wentworth
Detention Centre. Demanding respect for Ontario Public Service
workers, the letter confirms the union’s decision to immediately
suspend participation in various union/employer committees,
including the Central Employee/Employer Relations Committee (CERC),
Ministry Employee Relations Committees (MERCs), Regional Employee
Relations Committees (RERCs), and Local Employee Relations
Read the full letter:
September 6, 2012
Honourable Harinder Takhar
Ministry of Government Services
4th Floor, Suite 4320
99 Wellesley Street West
Dear Minister Takhar:
OPSEU considers its relationship with
the government to be foundational to the interests of thousands
of union members as well as Ontario's communities and citizens.
After all, OPS staff provide a critical service to the province,
assuring the quality of life we all enjoy.
OPSEU members respect the work they do
and expectations placed on their positions. Our members also
expect the employer to deal with them with similar respect.
Unfortunately, this partnership has
been eroded through recent actions and statements from
government. One action is the government review of public sector
pensions. The review threatens the retirement savings our
members rely on for a dignified retirement.
Another affront was the recent
statement from the Premier that public servants should be
required, without exception, to forgo wage increases. This
results in a cut to our incomes, as inflation continues to
reduce the value of frozen incomes. In fact, a freeze is a
We are also witnessing the disrespect
directed at Correctional Officers and staff at the Hamilton
Wentworth Detention Centre. In this case, staff are prevented
from working in a healthy and safe manner, due to orders (from
management) not to wear protective vests during searches for
dangerous materials now in the hands of prisoners. This
action unnecessarily puts the lives of our members at risk.
Taken together, these actions are an
attack on our important long standing relationship. We believe
these actions are designed to inflame feelings in advance of
upcoming negotiations. We have no control over the actions taken
by management. We do have control over the degree to which we
will continue to put up with this abuse.
I am writing to confirm the union's
decision to immediately suspend participation in various
union/employer committees, including the Central
Employee/Employer Relations Committee (CERC), Ministry Employee
Relations Committees (MERCs),
Employee Relations Committees (RERCs),
and Local Employee Relations
Committees (LERCs). We will however
continue to participate in joint Health and Safety Committees.
This is a decision we have not come to
lightly. It responds to actions directed our way by the
employer. It is a signal that OPSEU members are prepared to draw
a firm line against unfair and disrespectful employer behavior.
After all, an attack against some is an attack against all.
We hope our signal will give the
employer pause. Can we expect to see some change in advance of
what is sure to be a difficult bargaining round, to ensure that
our members in the OPS are able to serve the people of Ontario,
with continued excellence?
Perhaps the employer will share this
goal by enabling, rather than restricting, the rights of its
staff. Time will tell.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
copy: OPSEU members on the CERC, MERCs,
RERCs and LERCs
OPSEU Executive Board