Sixty- Five members of Unifor Local 229 voted in favour of a strike that could happen as soon as early April if the outsdanding issues with their employer, the Port Arthur Health Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario, are not resolved.
“Only 12 of those have guaranteed rotations and full-time work,” said Andy Savela, Director of Health Care. “The rest are casual. They don’t know their schedules or how many shifts they’ll get. There are lots of opportunities to create permanent work with the hours that exist there”
The members, who consist of clerical staff, medical aides, and records department staff, face a shortage of permanent positions and wages below what workers at comparable workplaces earn.
Savela also compared their wages to workers at a similar facility in Thunder Bay where workers are earning around $2 per hour more, “and that’s even with the employer’s last offer,” he said.
The last meeting with the employer was on March 14 and the employer did not table any new proposals. As a result, the local has asked for a no board report. If the conciliator files the report later this week, the members will likely be in a legal strike position around April 5.
The local bargaining committee is working to reach a fair agreement that prevents a strike and ensures good wages and decent work for members. “We’ve extended an olive branch saying if you want to get back to the table and talk we’re open to doing that, but we’re not overly optimistic we won’t be having a strike here,” said Savela.