Who's watching the watchdog?

    TORONTO, Jan. 22 /CNW/ - Ombudsman Ontario employees expect to be in a
legal strike position by mid February. The 60 members of Canadian Office and
Professional Employees Union, Local 343 share disbelief and disappointment in
the latest offer from the "Fairness Guy".
    Employees voted 98% in favour of strike action against the office of the
Ontario Ombudsman. While the Ontario Ombudsman himself enjoyed compensation
increases of 41.9% in 2006, over the 2005 year, the employees have been
offered a long list of takeaways.
    Heading the list of takeaways are five (5) paid days that employees have
had in their collective agreement since the first one was negotiated in the
early 1990's. The Ombudsman's negotiators have insisted these days must go.
The Ombudsman also seeks an increase in the weekly hours of work with no
additional compensation. The collective agreement expired last March 31st. The
Ombudsman's offer contains no retroactivity.
    The Ombudsman has referred to his staff in glowing terms in the previous

    "Given all that the dedicated staff in the Office of the Ombudsman has
accomplished in the interests of humane government in the past year, I am
intensely proud to submit this, my first, annual report. (Ombudsman Ontario
Annual Report 2005-2006)

    "...our systemic investigations have been done professionally,
efficiently and inexpensively and have produced a perfect track record of
improvement." (Ombudsman Ontario Annual Report 2006-2007)

    "We are proud to report that we've been able to help 20,226 individuals
this year and we've done so faster and more efficiently than ever." (Ombudsman
Ontario Annual Report 2006-2007)

    "Ombudsman staff have managed to make a real difference for individuals
who have come to us for help." (Ombudsman Ontario Annual Report 2005-2006)

    These glowing comments, combined with the list of takeaways, leave the
Ombudsman Ontario staff wondering where the fairness is for them. After all of
the takeaways are added up the current offer provides a wage increase of
considerably less than 1% for these employees.

For further information:

For further information: Janice Best, Director, COPE Ontario,
jbest@copeontario.ca, (416) 703-8515, ext. 225

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