Striking workers at Family and Children’s Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville held a solidarity rally in Brockville on Wednesday.
Close to 100 people showed up for the rally in support of child protection workers and support staff.
Members of CUPE Local 2577 have been walking the picket line since last Wednesday.
The local’s president says staffing has been reduced, while workloads have increased and wages haven’t.
“We’re working longer and longer hours, weekends, evenings until midnight and not getting compensated for that work — so it’s like volunteer work,” says Arlette Carrier, president of CUPE Local 2577. “We worry about our kids that are in vulnerable families.”
The executive director for Family and Children’s Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, Erin Lee Marcotte, admits workloads have increased and the workers’ perception of management’s offer is that it may not seem reasonable.
But she adds in light of the operational funding cuts over the last seven years, and more expected to come, they’ve offered what they can.
“We receive what we receive, and we are expecting another 2 per cent cut this fiscal year, and another 2 per cent in our operating funding next fiscal year,” says Marcotte.
CUPE’s national president Mark Hancock and CUPE Ontario’s president Fred Hahn turned out to the rally to support their members that are walking the picket line.
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Hahn says they’ve negotiated contracts with other family and children’s agencies in other regions of the province.
“What we’re saying to this employer is look, don’t fight your workers, come and work with us,” says Hahn. “Let’s go fight to get appropriate funding that is needed for important work.”
Since the child protection workers and support staff walked off the job, there have been no negotiations.
“We have had, just today, some conversations with our mediator,” says Marcotte. “So, we hope that she can be of assistance in getting the parties back to the table.”
Both the Ontario and national CUPE presidents came with their cheque books in hand, and collectively contributed $15,000 to CUPE Local 2577’s hardship fund.
It is money that is definitely needed, with no negotiations scheduled in the immediate future.
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