Port Arthur Medical Centre Strike Continues into Week Seven

Unifor's Andy Savela explains the position of striking workers at the Port Arthur Medical Clinic
Unifor's Andy Savela explains the position of striking workers at the Port Arthur Medical Clinic

THUNDER BAY – The strike at the Port Arthur Medical Centre appears heading into the summer. Nearing seven weeks of workers on strike, the Port Arthur Health Centre employer has refused to meet with a senior mediator from the Ontario Labour Relations Board and Unifor.

Striking workers, members of Unifor Local 229, received word late last week that the employer declined to meet and negotiate with the union, frustrating efforts to reach an agreement that would put an end to the strike.

“The mediator reached out to us a few weeks ago to offer their services and see if the union would be willing to meet with the employer, which we are,” said Andy Savela, Director of Health Care at Unifor.  Expressing disappointment, Savela added “We obviously cannot get this resolved if we refuse to communicate with each other. The employer’s refusal to meet can only mean there is no end in sight to the strike.”

In an email communication copied to the union, the Centre’s manager, John Marrello responded to a meeting invite and said, “The board (i.e. doctors) have declined mediation and future negotiations at this time.” In response to this, the union will ramp up its efforts to bring the employer back to the table.

Kari Jefford, President of Unifor Local 229 stated, “The workers’ spirits are high and they are committed to continue the strike until a fair offer is received from the employer. We will continue our strong presence on the strike line and we will continue to engage patients of the clinic who have already been tremendously supportive.”

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.