Ontario Warns Nurses, Other Staff to Work despite Jail Guards Strike

The Ontario government has warned jail nurses and other staff to be present at work despite any strike or their union will have to face the consequences. Ontario Deputy Premier and Treasury Board President, Deb Matthews, expressed in her remarks that jail nurses, maintenance workers and kitchen staff should do their jobs even if the correctional officers go on strike or are locked out Sunday.

According to a letter addressed by president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), Warren “Smokey” Thomas, on Friday, the union does not has the power to prohibit other unionized members from entering the workplace. The letter stressed that “as you are no doubt aware, all unified bargaining unit members, including those members working in correctional institutions, are required to report to work and perform their duties in accordance with the terms and conditions of their employment during a labour disruption.” Furthermore, Mathews pointed out “as I am sure OPSEU will appreciate, we cannot permit unauthorized absences or illegal activities that prevent staff from attending the workplace and we will take the steps necessary to address such misconduct.”

Mathews highlighted that the OPSEU is insisting for all correctional officers to be off the job in the event of a strike even it has not happened in previous labour disputes where a percentage remained at work. She alleged that “it is not clear how OPSEU can now contend that the agreement it suggested and formally agreed to jeopardizes health and safety.”

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