Parry Sound VON set strike deadline over travel time issue

PARRY SOUND, ON, Feb. 9 /CNW/ - Facing a four-year wage freeze, Parry Sound Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) home care personal support workers have drawn a line in the sand when it comes to rollbacks of their paid travel time.

About 40 members of OPSEU's Local 320 are counting down to a strike date of March 5 after the VON refused to back down on a plan to claw back pay for travel time.

The workers were divested from the Parry Sound hospital in 2008 with a promise to maintain their wages and benefits. Their last contract expired almost two years ago - March 31, 2008.

Having bid too low to take the personal support contract, the VON now plans on pushing wages and conditions lower in order to compete when the contract next goes to bid.

"The government maintains the myth that competitive bidding is based on quality, not on the drive to the bottom, as critics claim," says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union. "Every time we get into bargaining, its quite clear agencies believe money is the determining factor in who gets these contracts."

OPSEU maintains the race to the bottom has already created huge shortages of skilled staff in home care.

Under the proposed terms of the rollback, personal support workers could be travelling up to 40 km per day to see their clients without compensation.

The two sides next meet with a mediator on February 25 to try and resolve the impasse.

The Parry Sound workers provide basic supports to allow frail individuals to stay in their homes, such as bathing and dressing.

SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

For further information: For further information: Rick Janson, toll free at 1-800-268-7376 ext 8383

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