Sign of the times: First Ontario nursing strike in almost a decade

For the first time in nearly a decade Ontario nurses are on strike.

Twenty-five public health nurses working for Haldimand-Norfolk Public Health began their strike April 24 stating the Corporation of Norfolk County insisted on gutting their collective agreement.

“A strike is the last thing that our nurses wanted,” said Linda Haslam Stroud, president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association. “The public health nurses are very aware of the impact of a strike may have and are deeply concerned about withdrawing the valuable services they provide to their community; however, these nurses deserve to be respected and offered a fair collective agreement for the care they provide.”

Public health nurses are the front line of preventative care, from visits to new mothers to providing immunization and participating in infectious disease strategies.

The strike is likely an early indicator of the extreme hardball public sector employers intend to play with health sector professional and support staff.

The public health nurses recently attended a Norfolk municipal council meeting in which they were forbidden from speaking.

Across the province in Simcoe County, OPSEU members working at Kinark Child and Family Services are back to the bargaining table with the aid of a Ministry of Labour conciliator. The 85 mental health workers have been trying to reach an agreement for six months.

Despite increasing the number of managers earning more than $100,000 per year, Kinark is telling the workers they cannot negotiate compensation increases. Most earn between $39,000 and $57,000 per year.

If conciliation fails, these workers could also soon be on strike.

To support the striking ONA nurses, go to:

http://www.ona.org/political_action/support_public_health_nurses_norfolk_20120424.html

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