Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-01-17 at 3:59PM

‘A lot of injuries’

Unifor members rally outside of St. Joseph
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Unifor members rally outside of St. Joseph's Friday afternoon.
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

Health-care workers want the public to know about some of the workplace hazards they face, including daily assaults.

According to Unifor, the union that represents about 500 workers at St. Joseph's Care Group, funding levels have led to staff shortages, unsafe work conditions and daily verbal and physical attacks by patients and their families, frustrated by the lack of care being given.

"A lot of injuries, a lot of fatigue and a lot of disappointment in the fact that our members can't always give the care that they feel our patients deserve," Unifor Local 229 president Kari Jefford said during an information rally outside of St. Joseph's Hospital Friday afternoon.

"We see assaults on a daily basis, physical and verbal, from patients and families who are frustrated."

Workers are also upset that in the last round of negotiations they were given a zero per cent wage increase while management raises continue, Jefford said.

"That's a total slap in the face to our workers out there on the front line," she said. "Zero meant zero for everybody, not just our workers."

President and CEO Tracy Buckler said staff and patient safety is taken very seriously at the care group's eight sites. Numbers show that there haven't been an increase in incidents over the past two years.

"We're not seeing a huge huge increase but we're paying attention. Any incident is serious and anytime staff gets injured we want to make sure that doesn't get repeated," she said.
As for wages, those were legislated through the province, including executive compensation.

"Our corporation complies with the act and the legislation," Buckler said.

As for the union's concerns, Buckler said the organization has regular labour management meetings with workers and managers.

"We will do what we need to do to work side by side in collaboration with Unifor," she said.

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