OPSEU/SEFPO extends staff’s paid sick days by over 40 per cent, urges others to follow

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas speaks at Convention

Toronto – In the face of the pandemic’s third wave, OPSEU/SEFPO has voluntarily given its staff over 40 per cent more fully paid sick days. The extra paid sick days will be in place until the end of the pandemic, or for the duration of respective collective agreements, whichever comes first.

“From the start of this pandemic, we have been one of the leading voices calling on the government to give workers the paid sick days they need to help us all get through this as safely as possible,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 180,000-strong union.

“Our staff belong to unions, and they’ve bargained a decent number of sick days in their contracts. But in these days of isolation and quarantine, workers need more. That’s why we’ve voluntarily extended their annual sick leave from seven to 10 days.  It’s also why we’re giving all our temporary workers 10 fully paid sick days,” said Thomas.

“It’s just the right thing to do and the right time to do it. And I’m urging all other employers across the province – including those that employ the front-line heroes who are our members – to follow our lead.”

In the earliest days of the pandemic last March, OPSEU/SEFPO was one of the first employers in the province to close its offices and direct its staff to work from home. Its staff are still working from home, and its members are only meeting remotely.

“I’m proud that our union is once again leading by example,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “We called on government to create a sick-day plan that is simple, speedy, and seamless. And that’s exactly what we’re doing by voluntarily giving our workers the ability to take the sick days they need without having to worry about filling out forms or maxing out their credit cards.

“To get through this pandemic, we all have to do our part. And that includes employers. Now is not the time for skimping on sick days and pressuring workers to work when they shouldn’t,” said Almeida. “Now is the time to put our communities first and work together to keep everybody safe.”

Thomas said that the tens of thousands of OPSEU/SEFPO members risking their lives working on the front lines need to know their employers have their backs.

“Our members are heroes, but they can’t do it all alone,” said Thomas. “They need the support of their employers, now more than ever. I’m urging them all to follow our lead and provide that support.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931