PSWs back on the job in Sudbury, across Ontario
Personal support workers with Red Cross Partners are back on the job today, following a two-week, province-wide strike.
The dispute between the home health care agency and the 4,800 workers represented by SEIU Health Care will now go before an arbitrator.
The end of the strike was announced on Christmas Eve. Workers will be back visiting their clients as of Friday evening.
"We do recognize that it's been a very challenging time for some of our clients and their families, so we're certainly pleased that we're able to resume regular service for all of our clients," said Tanya Elliot, a spokesperson for Red Cross Partners.
Louise Leeworthy was one of 98 personal support workers in Sudbury who walked the picket line for the last two weeks.
She said tensions were running high as the holiday season neared.
"You're standing on the picket line with no cheque, so you're saying the bills are going to start accumulating and here it is, it's Christmas time," said Leeworthy, who is also a union steward.
"No matter what occasion it was, the PSWs were ready to fight."
Elliot declined to discuss which outstanding issues need to be settled by the arbitrator.
But Leeworthy said salary is at the top of her list of issues. She said her pay of $15.02 per hour hasn't increased in the last five years.
She said personal support workers need to have better working conditions, if they are to keep caring for patients at home.
"Our main concern was about our clients, but this fight is not about our clients, it's about us," said Leeworthy. "We have to take justice for ourselves now."
An arbitrator is expected to be assigned early in the new year.