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Corrections bargaining team calls for conciliation

Toronto – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) team representing correctional workers that is negotiating a first standalone collective agreement with the Ontario government has filed for conciliation with the Ministry of Labour.

“Once again, we see this government talking the talk but failing to take action on addressing the crisis in corrections,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Any transformation of the correctional system has to begin with the people who make it work. They need training and proper health and safety measures. And that requires a solid commitment from the government.”

Talks between the union and the government have been ongoing since late last year. While the two sides were able to agree on a number of non-monetary items, the employer’s wage proposals are a big disappointment, said bargaining team chair Chris Jackel.

“Given that non-monetary negotiations had been going fairly well, we expected a reasonable and meaningful monetary offer. That didn’t happen.”

Following the request for conciliation, the Ministry of Labour appointed a conciliation officer. Having met with the parties, it was determined that there was an impasse. As such, mediation and/or arbitration was triggered.

“The simple fact of the matter is, if you don’t compensate workers according to their skills and experience, they’ll go elsewhere,” said Thomas. “And when you’ve got a revolving staffing door, you not only undercut the foundation of any planned transformation, but you also leave the workplace in a state of chaos.”

“Yesterday, Bill 6 passed in the legislature, whose express intention is to transform the correctional system. That’s a great and welcome first step. But passing a bill is not enough. You have to back it with the proper level of resources.”

For more information: Chris Jackel, cmjackel.corr.merc@gmail.com