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Overpaid bean-counters should go, not nurses: OPSEU President Thomas

Owen Sound – After talks between OPSEU local 276 and the owners of the Owen Sound Family Health Organization broke down this week, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is suggesting that the owners cut from their own top ranks to find the extra cash they’re after.

“It’s clear that the almighty dollar is their top priority here,” said Thomas. “It’s also pretty obvious that the redundant position is not the frontline nurses, it’s the Executive Director. If the owners aren’t even capable of reaching an agreement because of their greediness, perhaps they could afford to lose some overpaid bean-counters instead of nurses. That’s just one suggestion.”

After talks broke down this week, the owners immediately resorted to threatening layoffs for the majority of the staff at the Family Health Organization – including all nurses – claiming that in light of the strike certain tasks have become “redundant” and that new processes will lead to more “efficient patient care.”

“How does having fewer qualified and trained nurses make things more efficient?” Asked Thomas. “Efficiency is just code for less money for frontline workers. This is union-busting 101, and it is childish behaviour. If the community hadn’t already caught a whiff of the owners’ true intentions, they sure can smell them now.”

“I know how budgets work,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “I can tell you that it’s never worth a penny to cut frontline workers; it comes at a great cost to the health of our communities. The Executive Director on the other hand, what does she contribute to patient care?”

In response to Health Minister Christine Elliott’s statement this week in the Legislature that the strike is a ‘private matter’ President Thomas issued a reminder to Elliott of her government’s campaign promise.

“Premier Ford campaigned on a promise to govern for the people,” said Thomas. “It’s public money that pays these owners, and it’s our public health care system at stake. This is far from a private matter, and these owners must be held to a higher standard. The health of our communities must be more than a campaign slogan.

“These frontline workers are at the very heart of health care in Owen Sound,” said Thomas. “They don’t deserve to have the threat of layoffs thrown in their face simply by asking for basic respect and fairness. They’ll continue to have the strength of the entire union behind them; now, if only the employer would grow up and get back to bargaining.”

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