(TORONTO) – If the provincial government has money to boost pay for public service managers, it has money for frontline staff as well, the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.
"According to the news, Ontario Public Service managers who are already on the Sunshine List are getting extra pay worth $6,900 on average," Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. "It looks to me like the era of pay freezes – which are really pay cuts, after inflation – is over."
Thomas made the comments as the union and the government prepare to return to the bargaining table in OPSEU's 6,000-strong correctional bargaining unit on December 18. In voting last week, 67 per cent of correctional staff rejected a tentative agreement that stayed within the government's demand of "net zero" increases in compensation.
"Until now, the government has maintained that all conversations about pay had to take place inside their 'fiscal framework' of ongoing pay cuts," Thomas said. "As far as I can see, these dramatic pay hikes for managers mean that fiscal framework just went out the window."
Thomas encouraged the government to come back to the bargaining table with a serious offer designed to avoid a strike or lockout in correctional services.
"There is a crisis in corrections in Ontario," he said. "In the jails we have overcrowding, understaffing, and rising numbers of inmates with mental health issues. In probation and parole we have the highest caseloads of any province in Canada.
"There is no way to address the crisis without more funding," Thomas said. "If the government comes back to the table preaching more austerity, we are heading for a major labour disruption."
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Warren (Smokey) Thomas