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December strike deadline looms for social service workers

November 28, 2018 - 12:00 AM

Woodstock, ON - Workers at Welkin Child and Youth Services have voted to take strike action if a new collective agreement cannot be reached. The 40 child and youth workers and social workers are members of Unifor Local 302 and could be on strike as of December 5.

“Our members are extremely dedicated to the work they do, providing a critical social service for children and youth who could be dealing with suicidal thoughts, addiction, abusive homes or struggling with their sexuality,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “They cannot be expected to put up with the multiple, outrageous concessions this employer has proposed.”

New management at Welkin Child and Youth Services has tabled concessions to benefits, including elimination of vision care, cuts to RRSP contributions, reductions to vacation and sick leave entitlement, and a three-year wage freeze.

“It is extremely rare for health care units such as ours to go on strike, and we hope it doesn’t come to that,” said Nancy McMurphy, Unifor Local 302 President. “The membership are extremely dedicated to their clients and their needs so this is certainly a challenging time for them.”

The collective agreement expired in March 2018. The union and the employer will meet with the conciliator on Monday, December 3 for negotiations.

Operated by a board of directors, this community agency has its head office in Woodstock, Ontario. It also provides services to in the neighbouring communities St. Thomas, Tillsonburg, Aylmer and Ingersoll through schools and satellite offices.

Unlike most others in the sector, this workplace is exempt from Ontario’s Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act (HLDAA), which does not allow essential service providers the right to strike. This comes on the heels of two strikes in Ontario in the last 14 months: Local 2458 members at Medical Labs in Windsor were on strike for three weeks; and Local 229 members at the Port Arthur Health Centre in Thunder Bay were on the picket line for four months.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Shelley Amyotte, at  or 902-717-7491 (cell).