Workers reach tentative deal following rallies

By Jenn Watt

Published April 24 2018

On Wednesday during their lunch break a group of workers from Haliburton Highlands Health Services waved to cars passing on Gelert Road outside the Haliburton facility signs reading “Together for respect” hanging over their winter coats.

The group under Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare said they were outside to raise awareness about the negotiations with the Ontario Hospital Association and that their action was not about Haliburton Highlands Health Services.

Among them an RPN support service worker activity aide and laundry staff.

Over the weekend the OHA met with the unions and on Sunday morning ratified a tentative agreement said Nancy Cowan chief steward.

Rallies like theirs took place across the province with union members saying they wanted wage increases without concessions pointing to maternity leave benefits and workplace violence prevention as key issues.

Asked by the paper about workplace violence measures Carolyn Plummer CEO of HHHS said it is a top priority.

“At HHHS we take the safety of our staff very seriously and we are committed to working collaboratively with staff to provide a safe work environment” she said.

“We have several policies in place to support a safe environment such as a violence prevention policy violence risk assessment policies and a Code White procedure that provides guidelines for staff to follow during an event involving a violent person. In addition to policies we also have a variety of tools and other resources available to support staff and we provide ongoing training to help staff recognize and de-escalate situations that could potentially lead to violence” she said.

Cowan said the next step is for members at individual health-care institutions to weigh in on the agreement between the unions and OHA.

“They will now proceed to a member vote in each hospital” she said on Monday.