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Corrections workers ratify collective agreement

TORONTO – Nearly 6,000 Corrections workers who work in Ontario’s correctional facilities and supervise offenders in the community have ratified their collective agreement with the Ontario government.

In votes held March 4-6, Corrections members voted 84 per cent in favour of the four-year contract. Members include correctional officers and youth workers in Ontario facilities, as well as probation/probation and parole officers supervising offenders in the community.

At the end of January, members voted 89 per cent in favour of strike action mostly due to a government proposal that would have restricted sick time to only five days per year, as well as a monetary penalty for going over that amount.

“Members made it clear that an attack on their sick time was unacceptable, especially due to the long-standing unaddressed issues of overcrowding, working conditions and exposure to diseases,” said David Kerr, chair of the Corrections bargaining team. “This offer protects members who are ill, and, considering the economy, gives our members a fair wage settlement over the life of the contract.”

Highlights of the deal include a base wage increase of 7.75 per cent over four years, along with special case adjustments for certain classifications. There is also new language to cooperatively address absenteeism (and its root causes) as well as language to deal with workload issues for members supervising offenders in the community.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, says he is pleased that Corrections members have ratified the agreement, and now wants to focus attention on working conditions in Ontario’s Corrections system.

“For over 20 years successive governments have ignored the deteriorating conditions in our jails and the unmanageable workload in community supervision,” Thomas said. “We have called for a probe in Correctional services, and we want real commitments from this government to start fixing the problems.”