Back on the job soon 0
Renfrew County’s Ontario Works employees will be back on the job soon, after county council ratified the collective agreement on Wednesday.
This ends the labour dispute which has been ongoing since May 10, when 22 employees of CUPE Local 4989 hit the picket lines fighting over the proposed removal of their long-term and short-term disability benefits from their contract, which expired in December. They work out of Ontario Works offices in Pembroke, Killaloe, Renfrew and Arnprior.
The county had countered they were offering the same benefits other workers agreed to within other departments.
Following special closed meetings of the social services committee and county council, council members voted to approve a tentative settlement for a five-year collective agreement covering the workers, effective Jan. 1, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2016, which is subject to final approval by county council.
The union membership already ratified the deal on July 24, 2012.
With the vote, a bylaw will be developed to finalize the collective agreement, which will be presented to council at its September meeting.
Greater Madawaska Township Mayor Peter Emon, chairman of the social services committee, thanked the members of the employer negotiating team for their hard work in making this possible. This included Bruce Beakley, director of human resources, Chery Leigh, Ontario Works manager, Karen Smith, Ontario Works site supervisor and David Carter, human resources co-ordinator.
“As well, we wish to recognize the work of the Ontario Works management staff led by Ms. Chery Leigh for their efforts to ensure that emergency social services continued to be provided to the residents of the County of Renfrew during the labour disruption,” he said.
“Special thanks, too, to Mr. Paul Moreau, director of development and property for the efforts of his department in dealing with building related issues on sites where Ontario Works offices are located.”
While details of the agreement haven’t being released, at one point the county said it offered a five-year deal which would see a pay increase of 2.5 per cent to three per cent by 2016.
What also remains unknown at this time is exactly when staff will head back to their posts.
County and union officials began meeting at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to hammer out a return to work protocol for the Ontario Works employees. As of press time, there was no word on the outcome of these talks.
Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist