Ontario gov't union strikers add to Canada woes

Employees at Community Living Prince Edward (CLPE) went on strike earlier than planned. The CLPE employees who provide care to more than 500 devlopmentally challenged adults in Prince Edward County were asked by management to leave their jobs at 9 p.m. Tuesday, three hours before they were scheduled to walk off the job and go on strike.

The 150 members of Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 448 join more than 1,100 members across the province on picket lines. "I'm really disappointed," said Pattie Markland, chair of the local OPSEU negotiating team. "We were at the table until 7 p.m. last night and I don't believe they (bargaining team for management) were there to negotiate at all.

"They had a bus at Crystal Palace and at 9 p.m. they put scabs in vans and took them to the homes (of clients) and asked the employees to leave. They changed the locks on doors, took away credit cards, company vehicles and cell phones, so it almost sounds more like a lockout than a strike," she said. "We were trying to negotiate a deal in order to avoid this but it certainly doesn't look like they had any intention of reaching a deal."

Markland said pickets were walking the sidewalks in front of six or seven areas in the Picton area and planned to maintain a presence from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily until a deal is reached.

Local 449 members have been without a contract since their three-year deal expired March 31.

Markland said a number of issues need to be resolved before a new contract is reached.

"We're a long way apart on wages and we also want our members to be able to take holidays when they want — this job is very demanding and people need a break," she said. "We also want staffing levels addressed and we find it quite ironic that the employers won't consider putting two staff people into a home with five or six people who need assistance, yet last night when they asked us to leave these homes, they replaced them with three or four people at each place."


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