Kitchener-Waterloo

Guelph support worker strike affects services to kids, families

Support services for foster children and families in Guelph and Wellington County have been pared down while Family and Children's Services workers are on strike.

With 130 workers on the picket line, non-unionized staff have assumed the day-to-day operations

With 130 members of CUPE 4325 marching the picket line, non-unionized staff have assumed the day-to-day operations of the organization. (Tania Lui/Flickr)

Support services for foster children and families in Guelph and Wellington County have been pared down while Family and Children's Services workers are on strike. 

Members of CUPE 4325 walked off the job Monday morning after rejecting a final contract offer from management over the weekend.

With 130 workers marching the picket line, non-unionized staff have assumed the day-to-day operations of the organization.

"Our focus right now is to ensure that if people are calling because they're worried about the safety of a child...we will be responding to that," said executive director Sheila Markle, but all non-essential services have been cancelled.

Markle said non-essential services include, but are not limited to:

  • Attending community meetings.
  • Training foster and adoptive parents.
  • Approving new foster or adoptive parents.
  • Provision of group services.
  • Responding to community calls that are deemed non-urgent, such as requests for information

"We will be making those decisions about what needs to be attended to and what can wait," she said. "Making sure that we attend to the most urgent things and then, if we have time, to get to those other requests for service that are not necessarily urgent."

Markle said management is limited in what it can offer workers, as it has a smaller budget in 2016 than it did in 2006, and is prohibited by law from running a deficit. 

But the union argues that despite limited funding, members of management have been giving themselves raises, while front line workers haven't seen a raise in two years.

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