Kingston daycare temporarily closes in the midst of a labour dispute

Click to play video: 'Something Special Children’s Centre closes it’s doors while in the midst of a labour dispute' Something Special Children’s Centre closes it’s doors while in the midst of a labour dispute
WATCH: Kingston day care closes it's doors during labour dispute – Nov 13, 2019

The childcare facility at the centre of a labour dispute has temporarily closed its doors.

Unionized child workers at the Something Special Children’s Centre have been walking a picket line since the start of November after being locked out by their employer.

The two sides in the dispute sat down for five hours of negotiating this past Friday, yet the same day the Centre closed it’s doors.

READ MORE: Kingston child care workers picketing, locked out of Something Special Children’s Centre

In a written media release issued Wednesday, the board president was quoted as saying closing the centre was a difficult decision, made in the best interests of the kids in their care.

“…the aggressive behaviour of the picketers presented a disruptive and unsafe environment for our families and our children.”

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The comments about disruption and noise, not to mention the closure itself, came as a surprise to Jennifer Oliver, president of CUPE Local 3625 which represents the locked-out workers.

“We complied with everything, like legal rights wise, but yes we were very surprised they shut it down.”

Oliver said she thought negotiations ended on a positive note Friday with some potential progress being made.

READ MORE: Thousands affected as Montreal and Laval daycare workers hold strike

The sticking point between the two sides is the sick bank.

The employees are allocated a number of sick days every year; unused ones go into the sick bank where they are accumulated and can be used later by employees, when needed.

READ MORE: Drinking water at thousands of Ontario schools, daycares have dangerous lead levels

Labour Management Committee Chair Bryan Elliott says the problem is that the sick bank is underfunded given the number of employees that have worked at the centre for more than a decade.

According to Elliott, money put into the fund to cover a day’s pay ten years ago isn’t enough to cover that day’s pay at the current wage earned by that employee.

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Elliott told Global News their auditors have warned them about the sick bank.

“We were told by the Something Special Children’s Centre auditors the sick bank is an underfunded liability that should be eliminated.”

Elliott says they’ve presented several options to the union, all of which have been rejected at the negotiating table.

Click to play video: 'Large gap in sick days between Alberta public and private workers' Large gap in sick days between Alberta public and private workers
Large gap in sick days between Alberta public and private workers – Aug 30, 2019

Oliver says the current system covers 100 per cent of their pay and the offers they’ve seen fall short of that.

“We are more than open to getting rid of the sick bank, but we want that protection.”

Both parties have said they are committed to resolving their differences, but no dates for continued negotiation have been set.

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While the Something Special Children’s Centre remains closed, the board says alternative care at licensed day cares have been arranged for families that need them.

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