Kitchener-Waterloo

Talks resume in Guelph Family and Children's Services strike

Management and union leaders will meet Wednesday, the first negotiations since support workers at Family and Children's Services in Guelph and Wellington walked off the job April 11.

Management, CUPE 4325 to meet at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday

Members of CUPE 4325 will resume negotiations with Family and Children's Services' management in Guelph and Wellington on Wednesday. (Tania Lui/Flickr)

Management with Family and Children's Services in Guelph and Wellington will meet with the union representing support workers at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. 

This will be the first time the two parties have been at the bargaining table since members of CUPE 4325 walked off the job on Monday, April 11.

"We want to be working, absolutely, and I believe management wants us to be working too," said union representative Cathy Thomas.

"Our members continue to be worried about the families and the children that we work with every day. We worry about the quality of service they're getting from the management team, because there's just not enough people to do the job," she said.

The workers have been without a contract since March 31, 2015. They rejected management's initial contract offer in January, 2016 and then rejected a final offer on Wednesday, April 6.

Thomas said the union made repeated attempts to return to the bargaining table, but was told by management that negotiations would not resume unless the union showed willingness to make concessions.

'We're holding our own'

On Friday, both management and the union finally agreed to resume negotiations with a mediator.

"We've heard that [the union is] prepared to come to the table and consider compromise," said Sheila Markle, the agency's executive director. 

"We've indicated a willingness to sit at the table until we have an agreement. So, we're hoping the union is prepared to do the same."

During the strike, non-unionized staff have assumed the day-to-day operations of the organization. 

"We're doing okay," Markle said. "We're holding our own, but, of course, we're anxious for our staff to get back to work as soon as possible."

In the meantime, 130 support workers remain on strike and services through the agency are limited. Management says the following services will not be available:

  • 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.

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