CUPE 855 members strike to stop attacks on public services and workers



    LINDSAY, ON, Feb. 3 /CNW/ - Municipal workers at the City of Kawartha
Lakes, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), are set
to go on strike at 12:01 am, Monday, February 4, to stop their employer's
repeated attacks on public services and on the 400 workers who provide
municipal services.
    "We are taking a stand to stop this employer from completely dismantling
public services and crushing the pride and spirit of municipal employees,"
said Lyn Edwards, president of CUPE 855. "We've been bargaining for months and
yet the City came back with nothing substantial to address serious issues that
affect our work and our working conditions."
    The City's contracting out agenda and management tactics that demoralize
the workforce have led to this strike. Outstanding issues include:

    
    -  Attacks on public services - management's determination to continue
       and expand the contracting out of public services to private, profit-
       seeking companies;
    -  Discriminating against older workers by taking away their benefits
       when they work past the age of 65;
    -  Targeting occupational groups where women workers are in the majority,
       by eliminating flexible working hours that have been in place for
       16 years, preventing workers from balancing their work/family life
       obligations;
    -  Denying overtime to winter maintenance workers who are asked to start
       work before 7:00 am to clear and keep the roads safe;
    -  Perpetuating the wage gap that holds back Kawartha Lakes workers, who
       earn significantly less than their counterparts in Peterborough.
    

    A survey released by the employer a week before the strike deadline,
conducted by Brock University, placed Kawartha Lakes employees among the least
satisfied groups of workers ever evaluated in the history of the university's
workplace surveys. "The City, including council, wants the unrestricted
ability to contract out public services, while perpetuating management
practices and unhealthy working conditions that demoralize workers," said
Edwards. "They're also demanding other concessions, including an attack on
older workers by taking away their benefits - enough is enough. We are united
and will not tolerate these attacks that undermine the quality of public
services."
    The striking municipal workers provide municipal services, including
roads maintenance, snow removal, parks, water and waste treatment, landfill,
accounting, administrative, library, customer service, by-law enforcement,
social services and others.
    "We are asking residents to help us protect public services by calling
the Mayor and councillors, to tell them to stop attacking workers and
dismantling public services," added Edwards. "This strike is really about the
future of public services in Kawartha Lakes."





For further information:

For further information: Lyn Edwards, CUPE 855 President: (705)
878-2152; Alison Davidson, CUPE National Representative: (705) 760-5113; James
Chai, CUPE Communications: (416) 292-3999

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Canadian Union of Public Employees

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