(January 30 HUNTSVILLE) It’s been a month since the collective agreement for Ontario public servants ran out, and tomorrow (Saturday, January 31) provincial employees will picket at Arrowhead Provincal Park to show their dissatisfaction.
Featured Photo updates Story: OPS workers picketing at Arrowheard Provincial Park say province forcing them into a strike
Workers in the Ontario Public Service (OPS), represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), will be at Arrowhead from 9:30 to 10:30am to hold an information picket over what the union says is the government’s refusal to bargain a fair collective agreement. Ontario employees have been staging a series of these information pickets across the province, with the most recent picket action today in Ottawa. The picket tomorrow is being organized by OPSEU Local 317 that covers various ministries in our region. It’s expected that Ambulance Communications Officers, Corrections Officers, Courthouse employees and staff with the Ministries of Natural Resources and Service Ontario will brave the cold tomorrow to make their concerns known.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said that the government is refusing to recognize the legitimate bargaining demands from his members, and is intent on freezing wages and cutting benefits in the current contract.
“Government negotiators at the bargaining table appear they would rather push the OPS into a strike than negotiate a fair deal with their employees,” Thomas said. “Yet this same government seems to have no problems with wasting billions of dollars on failed privatization schemes.”
Thomas said that the union has repeatedly told Premier Kathleen Wynne that his members can provide these services better and cheaper than the private sector, which has been affirmed by Ontario’s Auditor General. Despite this, that message is not filtering down to the bargaining table.
“Investing tax dollars directly into public services and public sector jobs will actually save the taxpayers money,” Thomas said. “If the government spent even a fraction of the money on public services and public service workers that is now wasted on private contractors, we would have better, more reliable and more accountable services for everyone.”
Members are now protesting in a bid to get that message across. “Kathleen Wynne needs to take action now and direct her negotiators to start bargaining a fair contract with those who provide crucial services in this province,” Thomas said. “That would be in the best interest of all Ontarians.”
OPSEU represents all frontline Ministry employees who work directly for the Ontario government. The current collective agreement expired Dec. 31, 2014. A vote in November showed 90 per cent of OPSEU members would support strike action.
What Ontario public servants are in OPS in Parry Sound-Muskoka? Members of OPS include workers with the Ministries of Natural Resources, Children and Youth Services, Training, Colleges and Universities, among other ministries that have workers in Parry Sound and Muskoka.
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