THUNDER BAY – Workers at the Port Arthur Health Centre who are members of Unifor Local 229 issued a strike notice for 8:30 a.m. on Monday, April 9.
“In consulting with our members, we wanted to give some advance notice to the patients of the clinic that there will be a strike on Monday, so they can plan accordingly,” said Kari Jefford, President of Unifor Local 229.
The union represents approximately 65 workers of the Centre, working as appointment secretaries, medical aides and in medical records. The collective agreement expired on December 31, 2017.
The union’s bargaining committee said no progress has been made on key issues of precarious work contracts or insufficient compensation for work. “The employees’ wages are so low that close to 65 percent of them will see an increase in wages when the minimum wage goes up next year,” added Jefford. Despite having a plenty of hours of work available, two-thirds of the 65 women who work at the Centre have casual employment.
“The frustrating thing about this situation is that the employer is not arguing that they do not have the ability to pay, but rather that they want to keep their operating costs low, which translates into profits for them,” said Andy Savela, the Director of Health Care at Unifor. “It’s shameful; as care providers, one would think they would care more about their employees.”
Although there are currently no future dates scheduled for negotiations with the employer the union indicated it is willing to negotiate to seek a fair resolution.