PRHC cler­i­cal work­ers to rally Tues­day

247 union­ized work­ers re­cently had their jobs re-eval­u­ated, hospi­tal spokesper­son says

The Peterborough Examiner - - Front Page - JOELLE KOVACH Ex­am­iner Staff Writer

A rally against a wage freeze for cler­i­cal work­ers at Peter­bor­ough Re­gional Health Cen­tre (PRHC) is planned for out­side the hospi­tal at lunchtime on Tues­day.

Hospi­tal spokesper­son Miche­lene Ough wrote in an email that 247 union­ized work­ers re­cently had their jobs re-eval­u­ated.

Of those, Ough wrote:

• 33 will not see their wages change, as a re­sult of the re-eval­u­a­tion;

• 168 will have their wages frozen for three years;

• 46 will have their pay frozen be­yond 2022 (it will be 2026 be­fore they get a raise, the On­tario Pub­lic Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees Union has stated).

“While the change in the rate of pay is ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately for new hires, the hospi­tal has pro­vided un­til April 1, 2019 for ex­ist­ing em­ploy­ees to move into other cler­i­cal po­si­tions within the hospi­tal – should they choose to do so – at their cur­rent rate of pay,” Ough writes.

The hospi­tal aims to pay all em­ploy­ees – union­ized or not – in a way that al­lows them to re­main “com­pet­i­tive” when hir­ing, she adds.

OPSEU has pointed out that all but a few of the work­ers are women – and most are work­ing part­time.

War­ren “Smokey” Thomas, the pro­vin­cial pres­i­dent for OPSEU, has said it’s not fair of the hospi­tal to un­der­pay its women work­ers.

But Ough points out in her email that 88 per cent of all em­ploy­ees at the hospi­tal are women.

“This in­cludes a se­nior lead­er­ship team that is 70 per cent fe­male and a board of di­rec­tors that is com­posed of 60 per cent women,” she wrote.

Thomas said he didn’t think that frees the hospi­tal of its obli­ga­tion to pay the clerks fairly.

“I find that kind of of­fen­sive – and I’m a man,” he said. “It’s not OK to freeze any­one’s wages. The CEO’s wages aren’t frozen.”

OPSEU pointed out in a full­page ad in this news­pa­per on Satur­day that the CEO had a 21 per cent pay raise in the last four years.

Dr. Pe­ter McLaugh­lin, pres­i­dent and CEO of PRHC, was the high­est-paid pub­lic sec­tor bureau­crat in the city for the se­cond con­sec­u­tive year in 2017. He earned $379,999.42 in salary and $12,000 in tax­able ben­e­fits in 2017.

Thomas said OPSEU’s ex­ec­u­tive for On­tario has been in­vited to the rally, and that the union will be tak­ing out more me­dia ads to try to “shame” the hospi­tal into re­vers­ing its stance.

He also said the union would file griev­ances over the job reeval­u­a­tions.

Ough wrote in a sep­a­rate email in late Novem­ber that the jobs had not been re­viewed in “many years” and that in some cases the work had changed due to fac­tors such as tech­nol­ogy.

But Thomas says tech­nol­ogy can make a job more com­pli­cated and re­quire ex­tra train­ing – and that’s no rea­son to freeze wages.

He also said a wage freeze means an em­ployee’s pay doesn’t keep up with in­fla­tion.

“So ac­tu­ally it’s a pay cut,” he said. “The cost of liv­ing goes up, right?”

The rally will start out­side PRHC at 11:30 a.m. on Tues­day.

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