Windsor

Windsor-Essex public health nurses reject final offer

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit says the final offer had a further increase.

Nurses have been on strike since early March

There are 86 public health nurses off the job. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Windsor-Essex public health nurses have rejected a final offer from the health unit.

The 86 nurse practitioners, public health nurses and registered practical nurses have been on strike since March 8. They are represented by the Ontario Nurses Association Local 8.

The CEO of the health unit, Theresa Marentette, said in a news release Wednesday that the final offer was made after a bargaining session last week.

"The offer on the table was fair to our public health nurses, while at the same time responsible, in light of the very real cost pressures we are facing due to the growing demand for services in our region," said Marentette.

The nurses had been working without a contract since March of last year. The main issue at stake in the negotiation is the wage increase. 

On April 2, more than 80 nurses voted against ratifying a tentative agreement. According to the union, the nurses have now been on strike for 35 days — "9.59 per cent of 2019" — as of Thursday.

"Our employer did not offer any meaningful improvements," said bargaining unit president Barb Deter. "Their disrespectful offer wouldn't even cover the cost of living nurses will experience this year."

Deter said the health unit's position is that women are worth only half as much of an increase in pay as male-dominated groups of municipal workers. 

"We will continue to fight for a collective agreement that reflects our true value to our communities," said Deter. 

Some services at the health unit had been cancelled because of the labour disruption. They include school immunization clinics and breastfeeding clinics. 

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