Since April 9, 65 workers in Thunder Bay Ontario, all women, have been on strike seeking a fair living wage and secure employment. These workers at the Port Arthur Health Centre are members of local 229, working as appointment secretaries, medical aides and in medical records. Their collective agreement expired on December 31, 2017.
To learn about this strike watch this video.
The workers represented by Unifor Local 229, are on strike to end precarious work that offers no predictable work hours or pay from one week to the next, and wages so low that the legislated minimum wage effective January 1, 2018 meant a wage increase for many of the workers.
While working at the Centre, which is a medical clinic, many of the employees have no health benefits. The majority are also classified as casual employees, despite working full-time hours for up to 15 years in some cases. This precarious work situation also leads to a situation where many of the workers are struggling and work multiple jobs to try and piece together a living wage.
The employer is not arguing that they do not have the ability to pay, but rather that they want to keep their operating costs low, which translates into profits for them. This is at the expense of workers and their families’ well-being.
Despite being on strike for over three months now, the employer is unwilling to listen and no progress has been made on key issues of precarious work contracts or insufficient compensation for work. The employer seems bent on continuing to devalue women’s work and make profits off the back of workers.