Rally protests cut to nursing hours

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Chatham Retirement Resort employee Kim Fraser and resident Bev Rose were among those people rallying last week in Chatham to protest job cuts and reduced services to residents.

By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Same old story.

That’s what Unifor Local 2458 president Tullio DiPonti has to say about the treatment of workers in the health-care sector.

“It’s the same old thing,” DiPonti said as he walked the line with protestors at a rally in Chatham on Sept. 29. “We’re out here again.

“With all the promises that the government made – why do we have to be out here again?” he asked. “Ontario promised to put an iron ring around health care, but instead they’ve given private owners free reign to do whatever they want.”

DiPonti made the comments during a Unifor rally last week in front of Chatham Retirement Resort.

The 6,000-member union local stretching from Windsor to Tobermory has about 4,800 health-care workers. More than 900 of those work in Chatham-Kent, including at the Retirement Resort, the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance and Copper Terrace.

The contract with Unifor workers expires in a month’s time, he said, but there’s been no move towards negotiations.

Instead, he said the trend with most contracts in retirement homes and long-term care is that the contract will likely end up in arbitration.

“That’s what happens nowadays,” DiPonti said. “They come and say, ‘This is all we’ve got – take it or leave it.’”

DiPonti said it’s a slap in the face to the staff who worked through the pandemic, caring for the Ontario’s most vulnerable people.

Chatham Retirement Resort resident Bev Rose, who took part in the rally on a scooter, said she enjoys dealing with staff members at her home.

“The staff are awesome,” Rose said. “They need more hours and they need more pay!”

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