Less than 24 hours after the Ontario Public Service Employees Union offered to extend its contract with the Government of Ontario to put on hold any increases to wages and compensation, the McGuinty Liberals have served notice that they want to begin negotiations that will likely produce drastic cuts.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said McGuinty and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan have now shown their true colours despite their public rhetoric on “pushing the pause button” on public sector increases.
“There is no ‘pause button’ for this government,” said Thomas, “they only want to hit ‘rewind’. With the legislation they are proposing, it means one thing, and one thing only. They want to strip apart our collective agreement in ways that Mike Harris could only dream of nearly 20 years ago.”
The proposed “Protecting Public Services Act” would allow the government to basically write their own contract with employees and force it down their throats, Thomas said.
“Absolutely no meaningful bargaining can take place if this Act becomes law,” said Thomas. “The government knows this. The only reason for the government to want to come to the bargaining table is to demand concessions, cuts and pave the way for privatizing and selling off public services. Right now, our collective agreement is the only barrier that prevents the dismantling of public services in this province.”
Thomas demands that the government scrap the proposed law and allow real collective bargaining to take place as it should under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“We are well aware of the economic realities here,” Thomas said. “No one is looking for a pot of gold. We are informed, reasonable and realistic. But this attack by the Liberal government comes before we have had one meeting or even placed one single proposal on the bargaining table. The stench of desperation off this government is obviously clouding their judgement. We invite McGuinty to take a real pause, back off this half-baked legislation, and allow negotiations to take place that will benefit workers, citizens and genuinely protect our public services.”
Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 613-329-1931 Don Ford, OPSEU Communications: 416-448-7442