Sunday, April 26, 2009

Since initiating strike action workers employed by the Toronto Community Access Centre have gone on to occupy the offices of the organization in the face of massive layoffs. As has been predicted here at Molly's Blog such workplace occupations are indeed becoming more and more frequent in these tough economic times as workers look for extra leverage as traditional methods fail to pressure the bosses. The workers involved are represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1. The following story is from a press release by the SEIU, via the Ontario section of the Anarchist Black Cat discussion forum.
TORONTO, ONTARIO-- Home care workers and their supporters occupied the headquarters of the Toronto Community Access Centre today after learning that 350 women and men who work for Red Cross were going to lose their jobs because they exercised their right to bargain for a better contract.
"These women and men are trying to improve their lives and the quality of the home care system. No one should lose their job for that," said Louise Leeworthy an SEIU home care worker. "We've been taking strike action for over a month and not a single person with essential health needs has gone without support. Home care workers in Toronto haven't missed a day of work."
Last night, SEIU was informed by Red Cross management that they would be firing 350 home care workers in the Toronto-area after the Toronto Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) declared that they would be switching to other providers. Camille Orridge, the CEO of Toronto CCAC, claimed that they decision was a result of Red Cross home care workers decision to take strike action.
Members of SEIU Local 1 Canada employed by Red Cross have been in a legal strike position since March. Rotating one-day strikes have taken place in communities across Ontario. All clients with essential health needs have received the same regular care. No strike action has been taken in Toronto.
Home care workers have chosen to take strike action after years of poor work conditions. While the government has set a "minimum wage" of $12.50 an hour - home care workers are only paid for a fraction of the hours in their work day. Home care providers spend as much as a third of their day travelling from client to client - time that no home care agency provides real compensation for. Statistic Canada calculates a "low income cut off" annually. In 2006, a single mother in Toronto with one child had to earn $21,384 a year to be above that cut-off. Many home care workers don't earn this much. By contrast, Camille Orridge, the CEO of the Toronto CCAC, receives over $180,000 in annual compensation.
"I'm not asking for a six-figure salary," said Leeworthy. "All we want is to be able to do our job."

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