FirstOntario Strikers Lock Themselves in Hamilton Credit Union

    HAMILTON, ON, April 18 /CNW/ - As the strike by 70 members of the
Canadian Office & Professional Employees (COPE) union at FirstOntario Credit
Union in Hamilton, Ontario reaches the end of six months, a number of striking
workers, along with other supporters have entered the credit union and locked
themselves in at the 688 Queensdale (at Upper Sherman) branch. They are
refusing to leave until such time as a settlement to the lengthy dispute is
reached or the employer agrees to binding arbitration and all the striking
employees are returned to their jobs.
    Despite record profits, the issues in this dispute continue to include
the elimination of post retirement benefits; elimination of sick days; two
tier vacation and pension plans; increased use of part-time employees and use
of students for more than five months of the year, with no guarantee of full
time jobs. At the same time, the employer has advised that they are
eliminating 9 full time positions.
    The credit union has violated the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires
Act, 1994 by refusing to hold their Annual General Meeting that was scheduled
for December 2006, which would have allowed the striking credit union members
to have a say. This credit union was built by working men and women; at Stelco
in Hamilton and General Motors in St. Catharines and the Niagara region. This
is a community based credit union, not a bank.
    Concerned members, local area politicians and labour leaders have
suggested that the parties refer this dispute to a neutral third party in the
form of binding arbitration. CEO John Lahey has refused. He has advised
striking employees that no one is going to tell him how to run his company.
Perhaps he needs to be reminded that the credit union belongs to the members.

For further information:

For further information: Janice Best, COPE Ontario Director, (905)
577-5419 or Patty Clancy, COPE Representative, (416) 807-1677

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