Jan 27, 2015
By Jane Brown
Is Ontario about to be affected by a widespread strike by the province’s public services employees?
“Will they go on strike? The answer is yes. Are they going to go on strike? I don’t know. We’d rather bargain a contract…we don’t want a strike,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas told the CBC.
Thomas represents Ontario’s 35,000 strong public service union. He returns to the bargaining table this morning with government representatives to try and work out a contract to replace the one that expired December 31st.
“Before there’s any strike or lockout available in this particular piece of legislation governing these workers, we have to bargain what we call essential service agreements. There’s over 1400 agreements at all the work sites across the province. That could take several months…so any strike or a lack of it, is several months away,” Thomas explained.
Thomas says Premier Wynne told him last August in a private meeting to expect a “net zero” in a new contract and that he was fine with that. But he says the government’s first offer was worse than what (former Premier) Mike Harris offered public service workers. Thomas says the contract strips away job security and reduces benefits paid to injured workers or those on long term disability.
Premier Kathleen Wynne continues to say “there will always be disagreements” and she “believes in the collective bargaining process.”
Join The New AM 740’s Goldhawk Fights Back after today’s 11am news when Smokey Thomas will be Dale’s first guest.