Contract talks begin for 42,000 Ontario public service workers

Members supporting teams with events across province


Toronto (5 Nov. 2008) – Contract negotiations between the Ontario government and their 42,000 direct employees began Tuesday with Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) members holding events in 19 cities across the province to support their bargaining teams.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the focus of the new round of bargaining will be to strengthen the public service - despite current economic problems - after years of downsizing and cutbacks.

“After the Harris years, Dalton McGuinty started to rebuild public services, but there is still a long way to go,” Thomas notes.

"Although the economy is in a downturn, this is the time people need public services most of all. Stable, well-paying jobs help communities in times of economic trouble, not only with the services they provide, but the money they spend in the community.”

Two sets of negotiations will take place simultaneously – one for the Central Unit and the other for the Corrections Unit. Central Team chair Eric Morin and Corrections chair David Kerr say they have the support of their members to get a fair deal.

“We are being realistic, but at the same time we need to ensure that our members get the improvements that are long overdue,” Morin says. “We are still dealing with work overload and short staffing, which hurts the people that rely on public services.”

David Kerr says that contract improvements and better services go hand in hand. “Last month, the premier sent everyone a letter praising our efficiency and dedication, and said he wanted to attract and keep ‘the brightest and the best’. We hope that he maintains that stance at the bargaining table,” Kerr adds.

The contract for public service workers expires on Dec. 31, 2008. OPSEU has public service members at 5,000 worksites in 276 communities across the province. NUPGE