Workers want equality, employer pushes strike - Employer walks away from talks

    STURGEON FALLS, ON, July 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Their employer is pushing for
a strike, but the only thing West Nipissing Environmental Services workers
want is to have the same wages and working conditions as their counterparts
across Northern Ontario, says their union, the Canadian Union of Public
Employees (CUPE).
    "We just want to get back to the table and make a deal, but when
bargaining got down to the nitty-gritty of wages and benefits, the employer
walked away," says Mike Fortin, President of CUPE 535-3, the local that
represents 13 environmental services workers in West Nipissing who manage
garbage and recycling services as well as the municipal dump.
    Fortin points out that the first collective agreement these workers
negotiated was based on the West Nipissing Municipal collective agreement,
except that wages were about 20 per cent lower and benefit provisions, such as
sick days, were much weaker. Currently, West Nipissing Environmental Services
employees are forced to pay for long-term disability coverage with 7.5 of
their annual sick days, leaving them with only 4.5 sick days per year.
    "From day one, the employer threatened to contract out the services if we
insisted on getting the same terms as similar workers in other communities,"
Fortin says. "It's not fair, it's not right, and we will not stand for it."
    Fortin noted that similar negotiations in other communities have
concluded successfully without strikes or lock-outs and have included
appropriate wage adjustments. The employer, West Nipissing Environmental
Services, have requested a no-board on July 22, meaning that a legal strike or
lock-out can ensue.
    "People in the community should be asking themselves why the employer is
walking away when all we're doing is asking to be treated the same as other
workers," says Fortin. "We are ready to negotiate, and we urge the employer to
come back to the table. Let's get the job done."

For further information:

For further information: Mike Fortin, President, CUPE 353-3, (705)
753-1911; David Robbins, CUPE Communications, (613) 878-1431 (cell)

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Canadian Union of Public Employees

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