CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn yesterday called on the Peterborough Regional Health Centre to take a much more active part in the talks between its food contractor and the staff working in retail food operations at the hospital to avoid a lock-out.
Recent polling showed overwhelming support in the Peterborough community for the hospital to lead in providing jobs that pay fair wages.
“The hospital has an obligation to not allow one of its contractors to pay poverty level wages as a way to escape these obligations. The poll shows that the citizens of Peterborough, who fund the hospital’s capital projects, expect more of them. We are calling on the hospital to step actively into these talks,” says Hahn. CUPE Ontario represents 250,000 unionized employees working in public services in Ontario.
30 food service staff, the great majority of them women are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 1943.1. In current negotiations with Compass they are asking for a modest wage increase to their current wage of $11.64 an hour. The next day of scheduled negotiations with Compass is on July 13 and a lockout or strike is possible as of midnight, July 15.
“Our members who work for Compass are doing the same work and earning half as much as the hospital’s own staff. The wage increase they are seeking is very modest. At the end of the day the hospital has to take more responsibility and intervene,” says Laurie Hatton the president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 1943 that represents over 500 Peterborough hospital employees including the 30 retail food service staff employed by Compass.
92 per cent of citizens polled in June said the Peterborough hospital has a responsibility to the community to create good stable jobs that pay fair wages. When issues of “fairness” were probed, 80 per cent responded that they don’t think it “fair” that former Peterborough hospital jobs, the majority of them held by women, are now being contracted out for half the wages.
“The Peterborough hospital employs Compass and we ask them to use their influence as the funder. The community expects the hospital to lead in providing its staff with dignity in their work. Most residents value decent jobs that pay a living wage and they support a contract with Compass that begins to lift these workers out of poverty. We are very hopeful that the hospital will step in,” said Hahn.