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CAS on Strike
October 17, 2011 permalink
Kawartha-Haliburton CAS workers in Peterborough are on strike.
CAS workers on strike
About 120 employees hit the picket lines Monday morning after weekend of negotiations fail to come up with a deal
(PETERBOROUGH) Local Children's Aid Society workers are on the picket lines.
Workers went on strike at midnight Monday morning (Oct. 17).
OPSEU Local 334 president Jennifer Smith has said the core issues for workers were hours of work, workload and job security.
Local CAS executive director Hugh Nicholson has said there won't be any gaps in service. If it comes to a strike, he says the agency's 32 managers will step in and fulfill the mandated services. They obviously can't do all the work of the approximate 120 unionized employees, but he said any child in immediate need will be taken care of while less pressing needs will be put off to a less busy time.
Source: Metroland, MyKawartha.com
Tabbatha Parker So Peterborough CAS is on strike and I now have no visits with my daughter becuz of this strike.... I'm not happy it's court ordered that I have these visits and I'm not getting them.
And a few days later:
Tabbatha Parker So I can't believe that it took CAS to go on strike for my daughter to come home!!!!! She comes home on Friday! Thanks everyone who thought I could do it! Cuz i did it!
Addendum: Here they are on the picket line. Silly quote of the day: "It is not about money." Truth is the entire operation of CAS is about money.
CAS workers on picket line
About 30 striking Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society workers blocked the entrances to the agency's Chemong Rd. building while chanting R-E-S-P-E-C-T Monday afternoon.
It marked the first day of the strike that, according to the workers, concerns a laundry list of issues including work hours, caseloads, job security and equal pay among equally qualified workers. Workers walked out after talks broke down over the weekend.
"It is not about money," explained Jennifer Smith, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 334 that represents about 130 frontline and administrative staff.
"We feel this is a last resort. We just don't have any other way to resolve these issues.
Smith said employees are routinely asked to work long hours, well into the night, and still expected to show up at work the next day on little or no sleep.
"The expectation is we now have to work 24/7," Smith said. "We are not opposed to overtime. That is part of our job, but we find it unreasonable ... to sleep for three or four hours and get up the next day for work."
Workers are dealing with too many cases and say their caseloads are affecting the quality of their service.
"The kids we serve deserve better," she said. "When your caseload numbers are high, you are unable to deliver."
The workers are also demanding a promise of no new layoffs in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement and are asking for equal pay for employees working in the after-hours department to match the salaries of daytime staff.
Smith said the union is waiting for management to resume talks.
"We are open to resuming talks at any time. We are waiting to hear from them," she said.
Smith warned there would be serious disruptions to service despite management's assurances otherwise.
"If 130 of us are not able to manage the job, I'm not sure how 20 (managers) are going to handle it," she said.
Executive director Hugh Nicholson said the agency has organized its non-union staff into teams and work is being triaged to address highest priority first. Nicholson said the top priority remains helping children at risk of abuse.
One immediate change in service is that all work is being done out of the Peterborough office, the agency's Lindsay and Haliburton offices are closed, he said, although staff is still performing investigations in Lindsay and Haliburton.
"Investigations of abuse we're responding no different," Nicholson said. "It's our highest priority."
The Peterborough office is closed to walk-ins and operates from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with 24-hour service, as usual, for after-hours incidents.
Maintaining the focus on abuse investigations is why other non-essential services have had to be reduced, he added.
There are 32 people currently doing the work of striking union workers and management from other CAS offices may be called in to help if needed, he said.
"We're currently taking a look at how things are going, assessing what kind of help we do need and if we need it where," Nicholson said, though he wouldn't say which agencies have offered help.
He acknowledged that they're working with a reduced staff and it's his hope the unionized workers will return to work soon.
"I know they would like to see that also. They know our families, have relationships with them and are working on issues with them."
If the two parties can get back to negotiating face to face, he thinks an agreement can be reached on the key issues such as workload and job security.
No new negotiations have been scheduled, Nicholson said.
"I can't say how important it is for all of us and all of our families that we get back to normal operations and I'm committed to making that happen."
Source: Peterborough Examiner
Addendum: Picket line picture from October 19. How healthy are foster homes?