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Community Suffers As Counselling Centre Management Hardens Line Against Staff

SUDBURY – The Sudbury Counselling Centre is supposed to be there to help, but its clients are suffering as the centre’s management prolongs a strike with staff.

Talks broke down yesterday as management refused to move off hard-line positions in the dispute.

The 12 staff, all women, members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2020, have been on strike for a fair deal since Oct. 16. The Sudbury community has shown support for staff at a number of rallies and picket-line events.

“If it was the employer’s intent to divide the staff, the opposite has happened. Staff are stronger, more united than ever,” said USW Staff Representative Lynne Descary.

While the union has compromised in negotiations, the employer maintains a hard line on unnecessary language changes. Talks have broken down and the employer has left the table, leaving clients without the services and programs they need.

“By refusing to negotiate fairly, the centre’s management is compounding hardship on people who are already vulnerable and in traumatic situations,” said Descary.

The staff offer counselling and psychotherapy, deliver Employee Assistance Programs, partner assault response for women and men, counselling for women experiencing domestic violence, assistance for male survivors of sexual violence, mental health counselling and more.

“The union has made significant movement on contract language at the employer’s request, even though the employer can demonstrate no history of problems with the language,” said Descary, noting the counselling centre has operated since 1971.

“These women are passionate about the work they do. They’re invested in their jobs and their clients. They come to work because they care about the clients. Unfortunately, the new management suddenly doesn’t feel the same way,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“The employer is demanding concessions around working conditions and a significant re-write of an employment contract that’s been effective for over 30 years. There’s been no history of grievances with the employment contract. The employer is attacking these workers for no reason,” said Descary.

Management continues to demand concessionary language changes; demands the staff find unacceptable and that will lead to a degradation of the counselling centre’s services.

Staff want to continue helping the people of Sudbury, as they have done since 1971, including providing programs for the francophone community that are not available anywhere else in the community.

Staff are asking supporters to contact management and request that the employer respect staff by returning to the table with an honest commitment to reach a fair agreement. Contact Executive Director Carole Lamoureux at 705-524-9629 ext. 203 (CLamoureux@counsellingccs.com) and Program Manager Sika Eliev at ext. 212.


For further information:

Marty Warren, USW Ontario and Atlantic Director, 416-243-8792
Lynne Descary, USW Staff Representative, 705-675-2461 x 224, ldescary@usw.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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