Employer argued for wage freeze; Arbitration Board disagreed saying it "would create unfair disparity."
Toronto (28 Nov. 2012) - Members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) Local 345 are celebrating. The 245 members employed as office and clerical workers at Peterborough Regional Health Centre received an arbitration award that brings them into line with other hospital office and clerical workers across Ontario. The bargaining unit’s collective agreement expired September 28, 2009.
The employer would not agree to any compensation increases and argued in front of an interest board of arbitration chaired by Richard Brown that the state of the provincial economy warranted a wage freeze for these OPSEU/NUPGE members. A majority of the Board disagreed, noting the pattern had already been set provincially for clerical workers and also noting that such an award would create an unfair disparity.
Writing for the majority, Arbitrator Brown made the following observations: “The employer proposed a wage freeze based in part on ability to pay and the state of the provincial economy. Even assuming such factors would warrant the denial of any wage increase, the resulting burden should be shared equitably among all unionized employees at the hospital. As there has been no wage freeze for other bargaining units during the relevant period, we are not prepared to freeze wages for this bargaining unit based on ability to pay or the state of the economy.”
The Board awarded a two per cent increase in each year of a three year term as well as improvements in bereavement leave, shift premiums, vacation, benefits and compensation for last minute shift changes.
Local President Linda Matteau was elated saying, "The bargaining team and the research officers all did their homework and made an excellent case. The past three years of waiting for arbitration, surviving the hospital improvement plan cuts of 2011 and the budget cuts of 2012 were very hard on morale within the bargaining unit, but now there is renewed life going forward."
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