Nova Scotia

Elizabeth Fry Society says strike will cause harm

The Elizabeth Fry Society says a strike by its workers is putting the future of the organization at risk.

The Elizabeth Fry Society says a strike by its workers is putting the future of the organization at risk.

Four workers are walking the picket line at the Elizabeth Fry Society, asking for a one-per-cent raise. They say they haven't had an increase in six years.

The organization helps women who are in in trouble with the law, both inside prison and after they get out. Kelly Ryan speaks for the society's board.

"It's not a situation where their wages are woefully inadequate," she said.

Ryan agrees that wages have not increased in years, but she says the workers are paid between $18.25 and $22 an hour, and everybody gets four weeks of paid vacation.

Ryan said the organization is funded through grants for services, and the strike puts that funding in jeopardy. No services provided could mean no grants paid.

"We are hopeful that it won't (affect) our funding, but that's a very real possibility," she said.

Nicole Farmer is one of the people on strike. She helps women adjust to life in federal prison, and then to life on the outside.

She lived a high-risk lifestyle herself, with incidents of homelessness, drug addiction and prostitution. When a friend was murdered, she vowed to do what she could to prevent such a thing from happening to other people.

She started at the Elizabeth Fry Society 16 years ago.

Nicole Farmer says the one per cent raise is symbolic. She says it is their way of showing their employer and their clients that when you believe in something, you have to make a stand.

"'Cause I truly believe in the work the organization stands for," she said.

Ryan said the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union has misread the organization's ability to pay an increase, and the strike could put the society under.

"We just want to do everything we can not to see the organization go asunder, and we are trying to do everything to make sure that doesn't happen, but it is a very real possibility," she said.

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