LANARK, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 11, 2012) - Front line staff at the Family & Children's Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, members of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2577, held a meeting last night and voted to stand up for the services and supports they deliver to the families and children in their community. So far, the parties have been unable to reach an agreement that values the work CUPE 2577 members do to protect children and families.
Family & Children's Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville is a child welfare agency that is mandated under legislation to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect, protect children, provide adoption services and help families to provide a safe, nurturing place for children and youth to grow up and realize their full potential.
"Protecting children and youth and helping families in our communities is a priority for CUPE 2577 members, says CUPE 2577 President Mike Burt. But having the proper supports in place is a concern. The issue here is ensuring that staff have the support necessary to ensure the delivery of quality services and supports to children and families." The provincial government ordered the merger of the Family and Children's Services of Leeds and Grenville and the Children's Aid Society of Lanark last year as part of its transformation agenda for child welfare in Ontario.
In the past, the agency and the union have always been able to reach a fair collective agreement - one that supports the services and the staff who deliver those services. However, this past round of negotiations has seen that relationship weaken by the employer's demands of rollbacks.
"A forced government merger should not be at the expense of services and staff, added Burt. When the government announced the mergers of child welfare agencies, CUPE warned of the negative impacts these would have for children and families who rely on our services. The integration of services should not be viewed as an opportunity to reduce supports to the staff who deliver services. The provincial government needs to provide the necessary funding to support the services and staff."
Across the province, the majority of Children's Aid Societies have found their way to a pattern of settlements with local unions that will improve the quality of supports to children and families. CUPE 2577 President Mike Burt is looking for Family & Children's Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville to do the same.
"To value the services, the employer needs to value the workers. We are urging Family & Children's Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville to negotiate a fair settlement that respects the work we have done together in the past and the vision we want to build for the future to ensure the needed level of services and supports are available to the communities CUPE 2577 members support," concluded Burt.
An overwhelming 99 per cent of the membership has voted in favour of taking action to defend child welfare services should the parties remain unable to come to an agreement.