TORONTO, July 18, 2014 /CNW/ - Health care workers in several regions of Ontario are fighting long-standing wage freezes. Today, talks with multinational nursing home operator Extendicare as well as a number of northern Ontario public hospitals broke off.
Unifor represents approximately 23,000 health care workers in the province, 17,000 of whom have contracts that have already or will expire by the fall. Many of these workers have not seen wage increases since 2011 due to agreements made when the Ontario government threatened wage freeze legislation after the 2008 recession.
"Unifor is determined to ensure our members get fair wages. We are not afraid of taking bold or even unconventional action," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "Our resolve should not be underestimated."
Unifor represents a number of different classifications of health care workers, including personal support workers and registered practical nurses as well as support workers in both hospitals and nursing homes.
"We took the responsible approach in negotiations when times were tight but now it's been years and we don't see any change on the horizon," said Joanne Woodfield, from Unifor Local 302. "I work really hard and I'm proud of the work I do to help people when they are most vulnerable. I deserve wages that at least maintain my standard of living so I can support my family."
Unifor is negotiating with employers from Windsor to Ottawa to Thunder Bay with a focus on achieving a fair settlement that recognizes the wage freeze endured in the previous round. Dias said that the union will be consulting with members across Ontario to develop strategies to ensure members win the respect they deserve.
Unifor was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. With more than 305,000 members, Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector.
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Shelley Burgoyne, Communications