Table Talk Issue 3

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Completely unacceptable

Government offer would gut the OPS agreement

On November 13, OPS members finally got their long-awaited look at what the government would like to see in the next collective agreement.

In a word, it’s less. A LOT less.

To the union’s complete lack of surprise, the government’s position is filled with takeaway after takeaway. Job security, termination payments, sick time, benefits, wages…all are on the chopping block in one form or another.

At the same time, government representatives at the table are saying that they want this to be a quick negotiation. They want this all done and wrapped up by Dec. 14 so that, we suspect, the decks will be cleared for a Liberal leadership convention in January. With that kind of an opening position, chances for a quick conclusion to negotiations are far less than slim, and very close to none.

We have to wonder what the government is thinking at this point. This proposal package could easily lead to a strike if left unchanged. So the only conclusion we can reach is that government is trying to scare every OPS worker with their opening position. Then, as Dec. 14 approaches, they will pull some of their proposals off the table except for the nastiest ones, order a vote, and hope members will be relieved enough to be fooled into accepting it.

Your OPS bargaining teams have a real, credible and supportable position for the next contract. We want to stop the privatization of services without justification or accountability. We want safe workplaces for our members. We want to bargain quality public services for those who rely on them. We want a fair, reasonable contract for the members who provide vital services.

This is not asking for much.

In a recent media interview, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas summed it up the government’s position this way: “They’re putting all the ingredients on the table to have a big knock-down, drag-out fight. And we’re up to that challenge. Don’t want it but if they bring it on, if they start it, we’ll finish it. Guaranteed. We don’t back down.”

With members’ support, your teams are completely up to that challenge. We will move forward with YOUR bargaining agenda, not the government’s agenda. We will show the employer our members don’t scare easily, and are smart enough to see through their tactics.

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