Personal support workers launch province-wide strike

SEIU Healthcare rejects agreement with Red Cross Care Partners

Personal support workers launched a province-wide strike against Red Cross Care Partners.

Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare, announced personal support workers across Ontario would walk off the job on Dec. 11.

Workers — who have been without a contract since April and in a legal strike position for the last several weeks — recently voted to reject an agreement with Red Cross Care Partners.

“These workers are tired of being pushed around and taken for granted,” Stewart said in a statement. “They are paid poverty-level wages of $15 an hour and are expected to pay for gas out of pocket when they drive long distances to make home visits.”

According to SEIU Healthcare, personal care workers’ wages have been reduced by seven per cent due to a wage freeze, inflation and the massive increase in the price of gas.

SEIU Healthcare represents more than 55,000 healthcare and community service workers across the province. Members work in hospitals, home care and nursing and retirement homes.

In her statement Stewart said Ontario’s homecare system was falling apart, urging the provincial government to hold Red Cross Care Partners accountable for delivering quality care to seniors and vulnerable clients.

“We take this action with a heavy heart,” Stewart said of the 4,500 personal care workers who will be on strike. “Nobody wants to be on strike in this economy and at this time of year, but the fight for justice doesn’t always fit into a neat calendar. Our members are determined to take a stand.”

In a statement the Canadian Red Cross and Red Cross Care Partners pledged to continue to communicate with the union, saying, “We salute the important role our personal support workers play in the delivery of services to our clients. They are a critically important part of our organizations.”

There will be no disruption to any other Red Cross service, the organization revealed, and contingency plans are in place to minimize any disruption in service to clients.

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