Striking Red Cross PSWs back to work

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By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - After two weeks of marching the picket line, Red Cross personal support workers (PSWs) are back on the job.

A short strike has ended, sending Red Cross PSWs across Ontario back to work.

Over 4,500 PSWs from across the province working for Red Cross Care Partners went back to work on Dec. 27.

Sharleen Stewart, president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) - representing the PSWs - announced that SIEU and Red Cross will be working with an arbitrator on January 3, 2014.  

"This is the most fair and neutral way to resolve a strike that could have gone on for much longer," said Stewart, in a media statement.

Unionized PSWs have been without a contract since April. They went on strike on Dec. 11 to dispute an earlier tentative agreement after seeking increases in wages, and further reimbursements for vehicle maintenance and mileage costs.

Stewart previously stated PSWs are paid poverty-level wages of $15 an hour and are expected to pay for gas out of pocket when they drive long distances to make home visits.

The Cornwall branch of the Canadian Red Cross have declined to make any comments, sending all inquiries to their head office.

"We recognize that this has been a challenging time for some of our clients and their families," said Tanya Elliott, Canadian Red Cross spokesperson, in a media statement. "Our clients' safety and well being has been our top priority and we are pleased that a resolution to the strike has been reached and that regular service for all of our clients will resume."

Organizations: Red Cross, Service Employees International Union

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