TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Dec. 19, 2017) – Publicly, St. Michael's Hospital (St. Mike's) says it values and respects its staff. But inside the hospital, that's not what's happening. Long-time staff are being fired without cause or being offered employment at another area of the hospital. A 20-year chaplain and four clerical staff were recently terminated. There is pressure on clerical staff to work extra long shifts and up to ten days in a row. The hospital has held what are being described by hospital insiders as “captive audience meetings” where employer representatives provide misinformation about unions.
All this is happening as St. Michael's is restructuring following a merger with Toronto's two other Catholic hospitals, St. Joseph's Health Centre and Providence Healthcare. It is in the middle of this hospital merger that 700 mostly non-union female clerical staff are facing an uphill struggle to maintain their jobs while dealing with employer pressure tactics to discourage unionization.
A rally is planned this (Tuesday) afternoon at 4:00 p.m. at Queen and Bond streets to support them. Area hospital staff, who already belong to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), are attending, as are CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn and OCHU/CUPE president Michael Hurley.
“Clerical employees at St. Mike's work their hearts out for this hospital. They should be treated with the same respect and compassion that they bring to their work with the public. The practices of walking long-service employees out the door with no warning because of oh-so-convenient 'restructuring,' or coercing employees to endure Soviet-style work schedules, is just not acceptable,” says Hurley.
Instead, says Hurley, St. Michael's should take the long view; stop the staff terminations and allow the labour relations process, now underway as a result of the three-hospital merger, to proceed unimpeded.
“There are legal processes in place to decide on the question of unionization and which, ultimately, will bring these employees the right to notice of layoff, scheduling protections and other benefits. Rather than act dictatorially, St. Mike's should pull back from these practices and let the legal processes unfold,” says Hurley.
CUPE represents over 40,000 hospital employees across Ontario, including nurses, personal support workers and administrative and clerical staff, as well as those workers at the other two Toronto hospitals that have merged with St. Michael's.
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