“This is an agency that has had trouble retaining skilled nursing staff yet has been unwilling to budge on the working conditions and compensation issues that are leading to that exodus.” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
St. Catharines (14 April 2015) — Fighting for wage parity and improved working conditions, employees at CarePartners show their support for bargaining proposals for a first contract by striking.
Workers looking for wage equity and basic rights in first contract
About 100 nursing and administrative staff at CarePartners went on strike on April 10, leaving the Community Care Access Centre to find alternate care for the region’s most acute patients.
“We have given CarePartners a very long runway to get a first contract negotiated,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE). “This is an agency that has had trouble retaining skilled nursing staff yet has been unwilling to budge on the working conditions and compensation issues that are leading to that exodus.”
Staff at CarePartners have been seeking basic rights and benefits for more than a year and a half, hitting a wall in bargaining over such basics as sick pay.
Staff are also seeking pay equity between other community and clinic nurses employed by CarePartners in the region.
Private home care agency puts profits ahead of patients and workers
There will be no continuity of care for those who have been shifted to other agencies. Some patients with limited mobility are being asked to travel from their homes to clinics. Staff fear that for many of their patients, including school-age children, there will be no alternative arrangements at all.
“Home care is supposed to be the cost-effective alternative that patients prefer,” says Thomas, “but when a private agency puts its profits ahead of retaining needed staff, patients end up in more expensive forms of care such as a hospital emergency room. This makes a mockery of the government’s commitment to the right care at the right time in the right place.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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