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OPSEU asks Ontario Corrections members for strike vote

TORONTO – The bargaining team representing Ontario Correctional Services workers is asking its members to reject a government offer for a new collective agreement.

The government offer, tabled early on Dec. 24, 2008, contains a punitive sick time provision for Correctional Officers and Youth Workers. Dave Kerr, chair of the Corrections bargaining team, says this is totally unacceptable.

“The government wants to punish members for high sick time, when they themselves are mostly to blame,” Kerr said. “Stress, overcrowding and deteriorating working conditions are issues we have been fighting for over 10 years. The Ministry ignores the problems, and then wants to punish the victims.”

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, says the union fully backs the Corrections Unit.

“Our union can’t allow the employer to arbitrarily penalize members who are sick for reasons beyond their own control. Instead, the government should be working with the union to find positive solutions,” Thomas said.

OPSEU represents 5,500 members in correctional services, including correctional officers, youth workers, probation and probation and parole officers.

Members will vote on the government offer Jan. 27-29, 2009. The old agreement expired Dec. 31, 2008.

Negotiators representing employees in the other bargaining unit, covering about 38,000 Ontario government workers, reached a tentative agreement December 24, 2008. A ratification vote on this settlement will also be voted on Jan.