Workers’ fears for vulnerable children and families prompt call for action by provincial government
NORTH BAY and PARRY SOUND, ON – Following the breakdown of bargaining talks this afternoon, representatives of children’s aid workers are saying “enough is enough” and calling on the provincial government to take action to end the lockout at Nipissing and Parry Sound children’s aid society (CAS).
CUPE representatives will now hold a news conference tomorrow at 11.30 in North Bay (details below). Union and community leaders will attend and will echo calls for the provincial government to take a role in ending the labour dispute.
As the lockout passes its 100-day milestone, workers are becoming increasingly alarmed about their employer’s unwillingness to bargain a fair deal that allows them to return to work. Their experience and observations on the picket line tell them that the absence of high-quality child protection services is causing possible long-term harm to the children and families they serve.
“We’re now in the fourth month of a lockout. The negotiators for Nipissing and Parry Sound CAS have shown themselves to be incapable of bargaining a deal that will get people back to their jobs,” said Bev Patchell, social services coordinator for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents the locked-out workers.
“This isn’t just causing hardship to the workers who are locked out, but also to the people who need high-quality services from dedicated child welfare workers.
“The provincial government must take action to restore real child protection services in northeastern Ontario communities.”
Nipissing and Parry Sound CAS locked out 140 frontline, administrative and support workers on December 23 and has kept them off the job, despite repeated efforts by their union to bring an end to the labour dispute and despite significant movement in the union’s bargaining position.
The breakdown of today’s negotiations comes the day before a planned rally in North Bay on Friday, where community supporters, union leaders and labour allies will march in support of the locked-out workers.
“We are deeply disappointed at the outcome of today’s negotiations,” said Debbie Hill, president of CUPE 2049. “The longer the lockout continues, the greater the danger to the people we serve.
“Residents of northern communities deserve the same levels of child protection services that everyone else in the province can count on. My colleagues and I simply want to return to the jobs that allow us to provide those services.”
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Details of tomorrow’s news conference, rally and march:
Who: News conference: Speakers to include Charles Fleury, National Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE; Fred Hahn, President, CUPE Ontario; Alan Aylett MD, North Bay family physician; and Debbie Hill, President, CUPE 2049
March and rally: Children’s aid workers locked out of their jobs by Nipissing and Parry Sound CAS and community supporters and leaders from CUPE Ontario
What: News conference, march and rally in support of members of CUPE 2049
When: Friday, March 31: news conference: 11:30 a.m.; march and rally: 12 noon to 1:30 p.m.
Where: news conference at CUPE 2049’s lockout headquarters, 409 Main Street West, North Bay, followed by march departing from lockout headquarters along Main Street to North Bay City Hall, 200 McIntyre Street East, with rally and barbecue to follow in Leger Square
For more information, contact:
Debbie Hill, President, CUPE 2049, 705-358-5887
Bev Patchell, Coordinator, CUPE Social Services, 705-305-6368
Mary Unan, CUPE Communications, 647-390-9839