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Eastern Ontario health team employees fear lockout: union

The tension is growing between the union representing over a dozen clinic support staff and their employer, Leeds and Grenville Community Family Health Team (LGCFHT).

On Monday, Teena Dacey, a representative from Services Employees International Union Healthcare, said her members have been without a contract since March 2019, and their employer LGCFHT refuses to negotiate with the workers.

According to the union, their 15 employees have been working consistent shifts on weekends and nights, which allows them to co-ordinate their schedules to work a second job.

“These are some of the lowest-paid members in that clinic. There’s a reason why they’re working two jobs. So, you know, it’s terrifying,” said Dacey.

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LGCFHT executive director Jenny Lane told Global News in an email that “the employer’s bargaining proposals are to simply ensure After Hours Clinic services (evenings and Saturdays) can continue to be offered to the community as has been offered for a number of years now.”

The union is now claiming that time is ticking down to a potential lockout.

According to the union, the LGCFHT has requested a “no board” from the Ministry of Labour, which would set in motion a cool-off period of 17 days before a strike or lockout deadline.

The LGCFHT would not confirm or deny whether it requested a no board but did respond to the union’s claims.

“This is false information provided by someone who has not been involved in bargaining for the renewal of this collective agreement,” said Lane.

“Neither party has mentioned the words strike or lockout at any time during this round of bargaining.”

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Lane later emailed that the LGCFHT has no plans “whatsoever” to lock out staff and that it is ready for “meaningful bargaining discussions” at any time.

The union says it is hoping that the employer adjusts the schedules soon and avoids a lockout.

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“This would force these workers to the picket line while disrupting the health services offered in the Brockville and Gananoque region,” said the union.

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