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Lindsay, Ont. Armed with strong strike votes from both the inside workers (100 per cent) and outside workers (99 per cent), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 400 City of Kawartha Lakes municipal workers, will fight to protect public services and address issues of poor morale and unfair management practices, in upcoming contract talks.
We are unanimous in our resolve to protect the future of public services in the City of Kawartha Lakes, said Lyn Edwards, president of CUPE 855. Many municipal services have already been contracted out and management continues to seek new ways to undermine front-line public workers who deliver quality services in our communities.
Last year, the city spent a quarter of a million dollars on a consulting firm to study the possibility of contracting out the City’s water and wastewater treatment and operations. Management will go to any length and waste taxpayer dollars to seek ways to contract out public services, said Alison Davidson, CUPE national representative. But management refuses to address the issue of contracting out in bargaining talks. They want to leave the door open for future privatization.
Union representatives requested the assistance of a provincial conciliation officer after city representatives flatly refused to address proposals tabled by the union. Bargaining has been a frustrating process, said Davidson. Management is only interested in discussing their issues, while refusing to look at issues that affect workers and public services. Based on my experience as a union negotiator, this employer is showing no respect for the bargaining process, nor are they showing that they care or value their employees.
Workers are treated unfairly and low morale is the norm, said Edwards. Staff members suffer from unhealthy work/life balance problems because of mandatory overtime. On-call duties mean they are at the beck and call of management even at three o’clock in the morning, and workers have little or no flexibility to take time off to care for their families and children for medical and emergency purposes.
It’s clear to our members that management is out to erode and demoralize our membership, continuing to push for more contracting-out of public services, said Edwards. It is crucial that workers have better protection against contracting-out, because our job security is the public’s service guarantee.
CUPE 855 members provide public services such as roads maintenance, snow removal, parks, water and waste treatment, landfill, accounting, administrative, library, customer service, by-law enforcement, social services and others. The workers’ current contract will expire on December 31, 2007. Bargaining talks are set to resume on December 13 and 14, with conciliation talks scheduled for January 14 and 15.
For further information, please contact:
Lyn Edwards, CUPE 855 President: 705-878-2152
Alison Davidson, CUPE National Representative: 705-760-5113
James Chai, CUPE Communications: 416-292-3999