Thunder Bay PSWs may strike over working conditions

Some personal support workers in Thunder Bay are poised to go on strike.

Some personal support workers in Thunder Bay are poised to go on strike.

About 21 PSWs employed by Red Cross Care Partners — a for-profit agency set up last year by the Canadian Red Cross — can strike on 24 hours notice.

Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare, which represents the workers, said her members face some tough working conditions.

Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare, says her members face tough working conditions and low wages. (Supplied)

“Their salaries are barely over the poverty level, and these women are asked to travel in those rural areas between client to client,” Stewart said.

“They are not paid their salary when they [travel] … and they have to put their own gas in their vehicle and use their own vehicle.”

Tanya Elliott, a spokesperson for Red Cross Care Partners, said she won't comment on the issues because the agency wants to respect the bargaining process. She said there's a plan in place in case of a strike.

“We've been working closely with local [Community Care Access Centres] and other service delivery organizations to implement contingency plans and, of course, we're committed to minimizing any impact of a labour disruption if it should occur,” she said.

The workers and their counterparts across Ontario recently rejected a contract offer that was recommended by their bargaining team.

A union spokesperson says province-wide meetings are being held to hand out picket-duty times and picket signs.

But notice of a strike has not yet been given to Red Cross Care Partners.     


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