Monday, 9 April 2012

Niagara News Bulletin April 15-30

by Peoples Voice Niagara Bureau

* After going back on a negotiated contract recognizing ESL Teachers, Brock University has finally ratified the agreement after a public campaign and strike action by CUPE 4207 with support from students, faculty, and community at the picket lines.

* The Lincoln County Humane Society tried to keep two-tier on the table through the backdoor by saying newer workers would have an "opportunity" to make the full wage, but the workers of CUPE 1287 are standing their ground and maintaining their strike until two-tier is completely off the table.  Uptil now management had not even been talking to the union, which struck in February.

* Over 100 people protested at the local MPPs office in Ft Erie against the austerity layoffs from closing the slots at the race track, which could have a domino effect on the track itself.  Meanwhile in Ft Erie the government announced it was also closing the Welcome Centre on the same day as the slots.

* Rural west Niagara residents started an online petition as a first step in fighting the province's cancellation of the reconstruction of the West Lincoln  Memoiral Hospital in the austerity budget, despite the community already  raising almost $14 million and Requests For Proposals being issued.  Fifteen years ago mobilizations saw thousands in a candle-light vigil protesting similar cuts.

* The provincially appointed supervisor of the Niagara Health System, who took over after years of protests of closures followed by a wave of patients dying from hospital-acquired infections, has decided that since the Ontario austerity budget increases the home care budget, he will close hospital beds to move patients home instead of using the money to treat more patients overall.  Meanwhile the Canada Institute for Health Information released data showing Niagara post-operative patients die at a 50% higher rate than in the rest of the country.  A shortage of beds makes infections more prevalent from crowding and lack of cleaning time.

Niagara News Bulletin April 1-15, 2012

by Peoples Voice Niagara Bureau

* 210 Fort Erie slots workers will be laid off by the province as it implements Drummond Report austerity cuts, even though they make a profit. The mayor publicly rebuked the province for destroying hundreds of lives without any consultation. The slots indirectly subsidize the adjacent race track whose closure means more layoffs.
* After Brock University recognized 38 ESL teachers organized with CUPE Local 4207 and negotiated a contract at the 11th hour under a public campaign, management reneged saying they “didn’t realize” they had agreed to no contracting out. The teachers have resumed their campaign and are heading into a strike.
* Health care workers associated with the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) rallied outside the Niagara Falls MPPs office against the coming Drummond Report austerity cuts, pointing out Syria would have more beds per person than Ontario, already the lowest in Canada. OCHU’s President told reporters “we will not allow 12,000 beds to be closed on our watch.”
* Lincoln County Human Society workers of CUPE 1287, striking against two-tier wages and benefits, are still being ignored by management who want new workers to pay for their bad decisions resulting in less revenue. Although 4 of 15 workers crossed the picket line on the first day, the rest are still holding strong.

Niagara News Bulletin March 15-31, 2012

by Peoples Voice Niagara Bureau

* Eleven members of CUPE 1287 at the Lincoln County Human Society are on strike and picketing to fight management’s attempt to bring in two-tier wages with no health care or sick time for new workers. They’ve been working without an agreement for 14 months while the Society reported a surplus in its last disclosure.
* Meat-processor New Food Classic laid off 120 workers from UFCW 175 a year after getting $1 million from the province to move from Alberta. Plant Chair Kate Jones told reporters “We feel like we were duped when we into negotiations... We made a lot of concessions.” The staff representative was left hoping on another buyer, saying “We’re going to know more as we go along”. Fifty-nine of the workers had been recalled from being laid off from the former owner of the plant.
* Twenty OPSEU (Ontario Public Service Employees Union) members picketed the provincial government in downtown St. Catharines against the privatization of ServiceOntario. They were followed by an Occupy Niagara protest against corporate tax cuts and austerity measures recommended by the Drummond Report.
* Despite earlier saying that the province’s intervention into the Niagara Health system means the Ombudsman can now investigate complaints into closures of emergency rooms and cuts in services, the Ombudsman has only referred the more than 80 complaints to the provincially-appointed supervisor who has already publicly said he won’t undo cuts.
* The Ft. Erie race track’s more than 300 workers have started a letter-writing campaign against the Drummond Report, which recommends closing the track as an austerity measure, despite the provincial revenue coming from slots at its on-site casino.
* Port Colborne’s food bank ran completely out of food, underscoring how poverty is a bigger problem than charity can solve.