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Ontario Public Service workers ratify new two-year collective agreement

TORONTO — Unionized provincial government employees have ratified a new two-year collective agreement with their employer, the Government of Ontario.

The two-year collective agreement covers 36,000 direct provincial government employees. Under the agreement, employees are subjected to a two-year wage freeze, but significant improvements were made to job security provisions, better access to benefits for part-time workers and the inclusion of anti-bullying language.

Roxanne Barnes, Chair of the Central/Unified bargaining team, said these improvements will assist members for years to come. "Our members will now have more options and better protections in the event of layoffs and downsizing. We also managed to fight back against a large number of concessions that would have adversely impacted our members."

OPSEU"s 6,000 Institutional and Community Correctional workers ratified their portion of the contract by slightly less than a 2/3 majority, underscoring the government"s need to continue to address problems in Correctional Services.

"While we managed to make significant progress in health and safety provisions in this collective agreement, there are still long-standing problems that need to be addressed," said Dan Sidsworth, Chair of the Corrections bargaining team. "Hopefully this result will be a wake-up call for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to get serious about the men and women who risk their lives daily in our jails and in our communities."

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said that considering the current economic environment, these agreements are workable for the next two years.

"This contract is far from perfect, but we will be back in two years to sit down at the table again," said Thomas. "During that time, the Ontario government will have to realize that the people who elected them want quality public services, and professional, accountable workers delivering them. Our collective agreement makes that possible. The stronger our contract is, the better everyone"s public services will be."

More information:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 416-443-8888 Don Ford, OPSEU Communications: 416-448-7442