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2014-05-14 at 11:31

On strike

By Jamie Smith,
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THUNDER BAY - Caregivers have hit the picket line looking for a wage increase.

About 75 people with HAGI Community Services for Independence went on strike Wednesday morning at six locations throughout the city. Workers there, represented by United Food and Commercial Workers, have been without a contract since last September.

"We've been bargaining with the employer for the past six months," union representative Colby Flank said.

The group was waiting for HAGI's provincial funding to come through, which came at a zero per cent increase. Workers haven't seen a wage increase since July of 2009, the main sticking point in the strike Flank said.

The union called HAGI Monday night to say members were striking but have yet to hear back from the employer.

Executive director David Shannon said a wage increase, along with benefit increases, was offered for this year and next but was rejected. Conciliation and mediation also took place over the past two weeks.

"That brought us very close very close on all issues but not close enough unfortunately," he said.

He's hoping that an agreement can be reached as soon as possible.

"We're going to do everything we can to continue discussions to extend good will," he said.

In the meantime HAGI is bringing in replacement workers along with coordinators and managers to continue care. Support workers provide everything from bathing to getting people out into the community on a daily basis. 

"We're very worried that some of these folks will be isolated and not receive basic and fundamental care, therefore we truly don't want their health to be compromised," Shannon said.

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