Striking workers fired after office protest

Frustrated credit union employees staged sit-in after lack of progress in talks

The fate of seven Hamilton credit union workers who were fired during a bitter strike is still up in the air, despite members demanding their reinstatement.

Seventy employees of the First Ontario Credit Union went on strike in the fall of 2006 after acrimonious disputes over issues including sick pay, benefits and protection of full-time positions. The strike continued for several months with no results from negotiations. Finally, after failed talks on April 17, 2007, several striking workers protested by holding a sit-in at one of First Ontario’s Hamilton offices. The sit-in lasted for an hour until police forced the workers to leave. Afterwards, First Ontario fired seven workers who participated in the sit-in.

At First Ontario’s annual general meeting held May 23, 2007, members expressed their displeasure with the lack of progress in negotiations and requested the credit union’s board submit to binding arbitration. The members also demanded the seven fired workers be rehired.

The members’ motion passed and First Ontario and the union agreed to binding arbitration on July 5. The 70 striking employees returned to work over a period of three weeks beginning July 9. However, the fired employees remained on the outside.

The fate of the seven employees will be discussed during arbitration, which is expected to last a few months. Until then, their termination will remain in effect.

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