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Doctors’ hostility to strikers is fuelling violence against women that has sent two to hospital

Owen Sound – At least a half dozen legal picketers have been struck by vehicles outside the Owen Sound Family Health Organization, a marked increase of violence that is a direct consequence of the owners’ hostility to the workers. 

“We’ve got trucks and vans barrelling through the picket line of a group of mostly women exercising their constitutional right to improve their working conditions and the quality of care they provide,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

“All this violence is being fuelled by one thing: the disdain and contempt of the millionaire doctors who own the clinic,” said Thomas. “I’m sure they’d do something if people were hitting these women with their fists – why aren’t they doing anything as people hit these women with their vehicles?”

Owen Sound police have been called to at least seven incidents of picketers being struck by vehicles. One of the picketers struck was Ontario Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Patty Coates. Two other picketers were sent to hospital after being struck. They included OPSEU member Tara Maszczakiewicz, who suffered a broken foot. 

“Most of the people we talk to support us in this strike,” said Maszczakiewicz. “But there are more and more people who are reflecting the misogyny and hostility of the owners. They’re screaming at us, threatening us, and one man ran over my foot.

“But I promise you this: their violence isn’t going to stop us from fighting for simple decency.”

Local 276 picket injury

“I’m disgusted that the owners haven’t done a thing to stop this violence, or even help the victims,” said OPSEU First Vice President / Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “These doctors swear an oath to help people who have been hurt – why hasn’t a single one of them come out to help any of the people who’ve been hurt?

“And what about all the parking lot security guards the doctors are wasting a fortune on? Why haven’t they called the police about all this violence?”

The violence isn’t only occurring on the picket line. The striking workers are facing abusive language and a growing number of threats on news website comment boards and social media.

“The doctors are responsible for this increasing violence, and they have a responsibility to make it stop,” said Thomas. “Before anybody else gets hurt, they must take a hard look at their actions and then get back to the table with a decent offer that shows basic respect.” 
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931