December 20, 2017 Latest News

Graphic images accompany the latest report on violence in the classroom from the union representing New Brunswick’s 3,500 educational assistants.

The union says 2,471 cases of violence were reported in the past 16 months by the frontline workers who play a critical role in supporting students with complex needs.

Photos backing up the union’s concerns about safety show educational assistants, known as EAs, with blackened eyes, broken fingers, livid bruises and bites so severe, the individual teeth marks are visible.

“You’re the shield between the teacher and the violent child,” said Theresa McAllister, provincial president for CUPE Local 2745.

“It could be somebody swinging a broom at you. It could be a headbutt. It could be a punch, a bite, a scratch, feces, you name it.

The union said the high number of violent incidents points to the province’s failure to protect the EAs spread across the province in a school system serving more than 97,000 students.

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October 5, 2017 Latest News

An arbitrator appointed to settle a contract dispute with Ontario college faculty that led to a five-week strike has awarded them a 7.75 per cent raise over four years.

The 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians were legislated back to work last month and outstanding issues were sent to binding mediation-arbitration.

The arbitrator’s decision, released today, also includes new language on academic freedom, which had been the main outstanding issue between faculty and the colleges.

The colleges say the new contract enshrines the academic freedom policies that already exist at most colleges and gives the same salary increase that they had offered before the strike.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents the faculty, says the deal could have been reached at the bargaining table if the colleges had displayed “even the slightest concern for students and staff during negotiations.”

Hundreds of thousands of students were kept from class during the strike, and about 27,500 of the roughly 250,000 full-time students decided to withdraw and receive a tuition refund rather than finishing their semester on a condensed timeline.

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October 5, 2017 Latest News

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is ignoring frontline health workers who are concerned about the level of violence they face in the workplace, Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas said this week.

In question period, the NDP’s health critic asked Health and Long-Term Care Minister Eric Hoskins why Ontario hospitals of ignoring the safety of workers.

“For years, frontline health care workers have been calling on the Wynne government to solve the problem of violence in their workplace,” said Gélinas. “But this government, like the Conservatives before them, keeps squeezing hospital budgets, laying-off frontline workers, and pushing our hospitals into a dangerous overcrowding crisis.”

Contract negotiations between the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) abruptly broke down last week following the hospitals’ refusal to address the issue of workplace violence, she said.

The issue was raised in Sudbury this week during a press conference held by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, which represents 27,000 hospital workers in the province.

That includes members of CUPE Local 1623, which represents 1,200 service and clerical workers at Health Sciences North.

Dave Shelefontiuk, the president of Local 1623, related one story in particular during the press conference.

This summer, a staff member Health Sciences North’s Kirkwood site was mopping the floor when he was physically attacked by a patient, according to the union representing HSN’s service and clerical staff.

“A fairly big patient, for whatever reason, decided he was going to throw punches at him and probably landed four or five off that individual’s head,” Shelefontiuk said.

The staff member was transferred to the hospital’s main site after the incident, where Shelefontiuk spoke to him.

He suffered some bruising, but it was his mental state that Shelefontiuk was more concerned about. “He was very jittery,” he said, adding he didn’t think the man was ready to be back at work yet.

Physical and verbal assaults are an almost daily occurrence, Shelefontiuk told reporters.

Michael Hurley, the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, who also attended the press conference, said the problem isn’t unique to Sudbury. It’s provincewide.

“The Canadian Institute for Health Care Information, in stats it had in 2014, said that about one half of nurses were physically assaulted in that year,” he said. “That’s kind of staggering when you think about it.”

In light of the undercurrent of violence in Ontario’s health-care system, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) said it’s looking for contract language aimed at reducing these incidents.

The OCHU has been in contract talks with the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) since June.

But the OCHU broke those talks off last week because of what they say is the OHA’s unwillingness to address the workplace violence issue.

“We asked if the hospitals could agree that we shared a common goal of workplaces that were free of violence, and they wouldn’t agree to that,” Hurley said.

In her comments at Queen’s Park, Gélinas said nearly half of direct care hospital staff report being assaulted by patients or patients’ family members each year, a statistic she argued is under-reported by hospital staff who are fearful of “employer reprisal.”

“There are hospital workers in Ontario who have been beaten so badly while at work, they will never work again.” said Gélinas. “Will this government bring the Ontario Hospital Association back to the table and provide the funding that’s needed to keep these hospital workers, to keep these (mainly) women safe from violence at work?”


September 8, 2015 Latest News

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The Peterborough and District Labour Council (PDLC) is the central body of union locals in the Peterborough area (Peterborough County plus Omemee) who are affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

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