UPDATE: NSGEU protests for parity at Northwood

Crystal Fogarty
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Burnside

Talks with Northwood collapse

UPDATE: After staging a protest in Burnside yesterday seeking parity for homecare workers with their hospital-based counterparts, talks between Northwood  and NSGEU Local 34 have broken down, prompting the union to call an emergency meeting.

The called the emergency meeting for this Sunday after Northwood tabled the same offer members already rejected in an earlier vote.

That means a strike is looming for continuing care assistants at Northwood Homecare as they continue their fight for parity. they can offically hit the picket lines at 12:01 Feb. 28.

NSGEU represents 1,600 CCA’s with the fight for parity going beyond Northwood to all homecare providers in the province. On Mar. 4, VON will be in position for a strike as well.

“Wage parity is just for the hourly rate, but there’s no parity when you look at the working conditions and benefits of home support workers versus the same classification and same training they get in the acute care system,” says NSGEU President Joan Jessome.

Home care workers currently make $16.67 per hour and are required to work an extra two or more unpaid hours a day, totaling more than 130 unpaid hours a year. They also have the highest injury rate in the healthcare system because of where they work.

“These mostly women are out on the roads by themselves all over the province working in an uncontrolled environment with uncontrolled equipment,” Jessome says.

She says the union is seeing more CCAs going into acute care for it’s stability, leaving less and less workers going into homecare.

“In fact, the workers behind me are mentoring the CCAs that don’t go into community and end up going into acute care,” Jessome says. “They choose acute care because they can go to work, park in the same parking lot, go into a controlled environment, get pension and benefits, make $18.83 per hour and work 130 hours less a year.”

The home support workers have the same training and education as CCAs working in acute care and are looking to be seen and treated as equals, Jessome says, adding that wage parity is just the beginning.

“We’re biting at it a piece at a time. It’s going to take time to bring them up to the same value even though the work they do is of the same value. It’s our opportunity to fix it and we are not giving up until it’s fixed.”

Northwood Homecare and the union go back into conciliation today at 10 a.m. Jessome says they will not agree to anything until they receive wage parity. 

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  • Ian Johnson
    February 20, 2014 - 12:42

    Hi Crystal: Thanks for your coverage of our rally yesterday. One small correction is that we represent 1,600 CCAs, not 16,000. Maybe someday. Thanks and best wishes, IanJ.