Begins: 18 Aug 2021 @ 9:00 AM
Location: Uxbridge, ON
Begins: 18 Aug 2021 @ 10:30 AM
Location: Port Perry, ON
Begins: 18 Aug 2021 @ 12:30 PM
Location: Bowmanville, ON
Begins: 19 Aug 2021 @ 11:30 AM
Location: Whitby, ON
Begins: 20 Aug 2021 @ 11:30 AM
Location: Ajax, ON
OSHAWA, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– Frustrated with the “lack of respect” they are getting from both the provincial government and their hospital employers in contract negotiations, registered practical nurses, personal support workers, environmental cleaners, and other staff from area hospitals in Oshawa, Whitby, Uxbridge, Port Perry and Bowmanville are protesting throughout this week.
The protests begin with a rally on Tuesday August 17, 2021, at 11:30 a.m. at the Lakeridge Health, Oshawa site, 1 Hospital Court. The hospital workers will ask that their wages and working conditions not be cut, and for better pandemic protections – safety measures, which will also benefit patients.
The Durham region hospital workers’ week of protests includes rallies on:
Nearly 70,000 Ontario hospital workers who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and SEIU Healthcare, are currently negotiating a new provincial contract. But after working the past 18 months at a hectic pace in a pandemic, these workers feel devalued and betrayed by both the province and their hospital employers.
The hospital workers deserve a fair contract CUPE says but, they are instead, being “rewarded” by a wage cut under a provincial policy (Bill 124) that restricts them to a wage increase less than 1/3 of the rate of inflation. Bill 124 also impacts hospital workers’ ability to negotiate much-needed increases to mental health supports like psychotherapy and post-traumatic stress counselling.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford calls care workers pandemic heroes. But hospital workers face a cut to real wages under provincial legislation that restricts them to a wage increase less than 1/3 of the rate of inflation. The province has also severely limited hospital workers’ ability to negotiate much-needed increases to mental health supports like post-traumatic stress counselling.
The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), the umbrella group that bargains on behalf of Ontario hospitals in central negotiations with CUPE and SEIU, is seeking many takeaways which would eviscerate workplace rights.
“Hospital workers have held the line for patients and the people of Oshawa, Whitby, Bowmanville, Uxbridge, Port Perry, Pickering, and Ajax. They sacrificed to do that, and they were proud and grateful to be able to help. They did not expect a reward. But a cut to their modest real wages and the gutting of their contracts is not acceptable. We expect the provincial government to walk back from its 1% wage cap, as the British government has just done, in acknowledgement of the pandemic effort. And we expect the hospitals to pull their concessions and to address the priorities of the workforce, particularly in the areas of pandemic protection and violence.” says Michael Hurley, president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE) who is speaking at some of the protest at Durham region area hospitals this week.
Health care workers in the National Health Service in the UK were also restricted to 1% increases by their government. But this week the British government announced that salaries would be increased by 3%, in recognition of the contribution of health care staff.
In addition to getting Bill 124 repealed, hospital workers are asking the OHA to take several concessions, including language around seniority and retirement packages, off the table.
In July and early August, workers rallied at nearly 50 hospitals throughout Ontario’s northwest, northeast, east and the Hamilton/GTA area. The rallies at Durham area hospitals this week are among the last to happen in summer of hospital worker protests that will culminate with a provincial protest action (pandemic guidelines permitting) on September 10 in Toronto.
OCHU/CUPE and SEIU Healthcare began bargaining with the OHA in June and will return to the table in early September.
For information please contact:
Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications, 416-559-9300, firstname.lastname@example.org