Strong strike vote at Family and Children’s Services of Renfrew County

“Our work is protecting society’s most vulnerable children. We can’t give each child the attention and care they need if we’re juggling more cases than we can handle.” — Nicole Dennison McLeod, President of OPSEU Local 459 

Renfrew County (23 Feb. 2017) — Members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) working at Family and Children’s Services of Renfrew County have voted 77 per cent in favour of strike action if negotiations fail to produce a new collective agreement.

Difficult bargaining, OPSEU/NUPGE members consider first strike since 1984

The 105-member local has experienced fairly good labour relations in the last 2 decades, which is what makes the difficulty of this round of negotiations so surprising, noted Nicole Dennison McLeod, OPSEU Local 459 President. This is the local’s first strike vote since 1984.

“That’s how you know it’s serious,” said Dennison McLeod. “Workload is one of our biggest concerns. We need to see explicit, enforceable language on that before we can sign anything."

“Our work is protecting society’s most vulnerable children,” she continued. “We can’t give each child the attention and care they need if we’re juggling more cases than we can handle.”

Workload a major issue in negotiations

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President shared the local president’s concerns said, “Providing a safe workplace by capping workloads is so crucial, especially in this sector."

“I hope this employer realizes it before any kids slip through the cracks," Thomas said.

Another sticking point in this round of negotiations is job security, a sector-wide issue in child protection/welfare services.

Family and Children’s Services Renfrew County provides child protection/welfare and developmental services to families in Renfrew County.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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