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SUDBURY Jan 31/08- CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan has called for the resignation of the City of Sudbury’s human resource director for publicly accusing CUPE 148 workers at Pioneer Manor of stealing sick days to bolster their vacation.

The accusation by the city’s Pat Thomson was made in an article published by the Sudbury Star today. It came the day after Ryan joined CUPE 148 workers in Sudbury at a picket to draw attention to the need to ensure their collective agreement is upheld. The City owns and operates Pioneer Manor.

“It is clear that Thomson is clearly out of step with senior elected leadership in the city,” said Ryan in a letter sent to the Sudbury Star today. “He should do the honourable thing and have his letter of resignation on the Mayor’s desk by the weekend.”

Ryan added that Thomson’s accusation is all the more ironic and despicable given Mayor John Rodriguez’s introduction of the Year of the Employee. Sanctioned by City Council and the Chief Administrative Officer, it is meant to improve the culture of senior management and their relations with employees.

Pioneer Manor workers, who are often subjected to flu, bacteria and viruses in their workplace, gave up other things in previous negotiations to obtain a comprehensive sick leave plan. They are entitled to 18 days sick leave per year that can be accumulated until retirement, when a portion can be treated as banked time. The city tried to get rid of the accumulation factor in previous negotiations and when the union did not agree, the employer removed the item from negotiations, then proceeded to unilaterally hand over the plan to Manulife.

Today, the caregivers at Pioneer Manor must apply to Manulife if they miss more than 6 days due to illness a year. They will only receive 75% of their pay compared to 100 per cent under the plan that was negotiated, and they will be out of pocket while they wait for adjudication. These workers must now pay between $75 and $115 to have a physician fill out a doctor’s assessment, compared to $15- $20 for a doctor’s slip under the negotiated plan, and may still have their claim denied.

Speaking to the workers in Sudbury last night, Ryan was unequivocal in offering CUPE Ontario’s support to the union.

“Thomson should well know that the City did not have the right to unilaterally hand over this sick plan to a third party. He should also know that the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario and Local 148 are fully prepared to get this illegal hand-over of workers’ rights dealt with through arbitration or by the courts if needed.”

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