Community Agencies

Strike looms at Settlement Assistance and Family Support Services


Scarborough – Workers at Settlement Assistance and Family Support Services (SAFSS) are warning of a possible strike, which could come as early as October 8.

Local 518 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) represents 46 employees at SAFSS. The local’s bargaining team chair, Valentina Khoudiakova, says the employer has refused to get serious about achieving a first contract.

“The employer’s unco-operative attitude shows disrespect for the workers and disdain for the collective bargaining process,” said Khoudiakova. “We’ve been extremely patient, but it takes two to tango, and it’s pretty clear to us that this employer is in no mood to dance.”

Formerly known as South Asian Family Support Services, the agency provides a wide variety of services for recent immigrants, including language and skills development, information and orientation services, newcomer settlement programs, and programs for seniors.

“The employer is callously jeopardizing the availability of vital services that newcomers to Canada depend on – particularly at this time, with the influx of Syrian refugees arriving in Toronto,” noted Khoudiakova. “These vulnerable people have urgent needs. They shouldn’t be victimized again.”

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU, said it was high time the employer stopped playing games and came to the table with a real intention of reaching an agreement.

“The union and the employer began negotiations over 18 months ago. But up to now, the employer has chosen to lead their valued employees down the garden path. That’s shabby in itself. But now it looks like they’re ready to put their clients’ well-being on the line as well.

“A work stoppage is on the horizon. What will partners and funders think when vulnerable people can’t get services? This employer needs to get a new attitude and hammer out a deal – right now.”

For more information: Valentina Khoudiakova, 905-889-6512