24 VON nurses on strike in Sarnia after contract talks break down
Union says nurses have been without a contract for 2 years
Twenty-four nurses walked off the job in Sarnia, Ont., on Saturday after talks for a new contract broke down.
Local 3000 of the Laborers' International Union of North America (Liuna), representing home-care and school nurses employed by VON Canada, says their previous contract expired two years ago.
Talks broke down after they failed to come to a consensus on wages and overtime pay, according to the union.
"They've never made a claim that they can't afford to give those increases," said Ken Sharpe.
"They have never given me any reason to not give me those increases, other than they don't want to set a precedent elsewhere in the province. They just won't."
Brittany Glazier, a registered practical nurse, said many VON nurses in the school system are working full time but aren't entitled to full-time benefits, including paid sick leave.
The nurses are also seeking a pay raise.
"Our ask is one per cent per year, which is not a big ask if you ask anybody, actually, not just us," she said.
Glazier said the nurses feel devalued by their employer.
"We're highly trained nurses that are going into patient homes and to their schools. We have to be cross-trained in a little bit of everything," she said.
In a written statement, VON said it's working closely with community partners to limit the impact on their clients.
"VON employees are at the heart of everything we do," the non-profit organization said in a statement.
"We value and respect their work and have a strong commitment to fairness. VON is fully committed to the bargaining process, and to continuing to work toward a resolution."
With files from Jacob Barker