Workers at Rehab Express/Closing the Gap in St. Thomas, Ont., sign new agreement

Deal includes process to solve issues on workload, employment status, vacation pay: OPSEU

Health care professionals working for Rehab Express/Closing the Gap Healthcare in St. Thomas, Ont., reached an 11th-hour deal on June 22 with the employer on a new collective agreement.

The workers — members of Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 152 — were in a legal strike or lockout position.

The workers had been without a contract since March 31, 2017. They include a dietician, a social worker, a speech and language pathologist and a number of physiotherapists and occupational therapists. The principal bone of contention was wages. Closing the Gap health professionals receive up to 30 per cent less in salary and benefits than other Ontario health care professionals doing the same work, said the union.

The tentative agreement includes a 6.7 per cent increase, effective April 1, 2018. The deal also includes a process to deal with ongoing issues, such as workload, employment status, vacation pay and statutory holidays, according to OPSEU.

A ratification vote has been scheduled for June 25 at 5 p.m., at which time full details of the settlement will be made available, said the union.

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