"No way, we can't pay" community social services employers claim

Bargaining bulletin

Oct. 1 wage increase delayed to health care's lowest paid workers Community social services sector employers are pleading poverty and that's keeping HEU members poor. The hard-won wage increase that should have kicked in October 1, was absent from many pay cheques because employers and their representative, the Community Social Services Employers' Association, are claiming inability to pay. "That's simply not good enough," says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. "The collective agreement clearly spells out the effective date of wage and other monetary increases." "Our members should not be paying the price of employers' failures to meet their obligations." CSSEA maintains that this is the way it's always been: employers complete a costing process, send their submissions to the government and wait for the money. When they receive the funds, they implement the wage increase. But the union told employers in June that the days of delays are over and to speed up the process. HEU even supported CSSEA's request to the province for more resources so that costings would be completed on time. "We've asked CSSEA which employers can't pay and why, so that we can tell our members," says Allnutt. "And we've suggested that delinquent employers set up lines of credit, or that CSSEA ask the government for funding advances to the defaulters, so that the agencies bear the cost, not the workers. "By delaying the wage increases, employers are jeopardizing labour relations already strained by the 14 months of bargaining and 12 weeks of job action it took to reach a fair contract." The union has written to CSSEA demanding a swift resolution to the missing raises. Local executives and shop stewards are monitoring the situation closely. Talk to your steward about the local action plan if employers do not implement the wage and other monetary increases soon.