TORONTO, April 4, 2014 /CNW/ - The union representing Ontario's
front-line correctional officers says that it appears the Ministry of
Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) is gearing up for a
strike in "significant fashion" despite the fact they are months away
from contract negotiations.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union reports that many
correctional facilities are constructing housing accommodations for the
sole purpose of providing temporary living quarters for managers who
would be required to stay at the facilities in the event of a labour
dispute. The Ministry is being secretive about these so-called
"building improvements," taking extreme measures to ensure that
unionized staff are denied access to these areas.
Sudbury Jail, Central North Correctional Centre, Niagara Detention
Centre, Algoma Treatment and Remand Centre, Monteith Correctional
Centre, Thunder Bay Jail, Kenora Jail, Hamilton-Wentworth Detention
Centre, Central East Correctional Centre, Ottawa Carlton Detention
Centre, Maplehurst Correctional Centre and Vanier Centre for Women have
all confirmed that they have received, or are receiving, significant
construction. Many others report that construction is pending at their
institutions. None of this construction will be used for additional
staff space or an increase to inmate beds.
Dan Sidsworth, the elected representative for correctional members, says
that it appears the Ministry has already decided it won't negotiate in
good faith when bargaining begins. "The current collective agreement is
not due to expire until the end of December 2014," Sidsworth said.
"This can only mean one thing: The Ministry's intent is to 'draw a line
in the sand' and lock-out correctional officers before it even knows
what issues are on the bargaining table."
Chris Jackel, President of Local 369 at Central North Correctional
Centre in Penetanguishene, said that after the 2002 strike the
managers' biggest complaint was the poor living conditions they had to
endure. "It seems as though the Government is doing something about it
this time," he said.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the Ministry should be
spending money on increasing inmate beds and improving working
conditions in the facilities instead of spending money preparing for a
dispute. "The cost of the managers' strike accommodations is estimated
to be over $500,000," Thomas said. "If they took that money and
invested it in their front-line staff and facilities, it would go a
long way in ensuring there weren't any future labour disputes."
For further information:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas 416-443-8888
Dan Sidsworth 905-691-7955