Labour dispute could disrupt care of N.S. seniors
Published Wednesday, August 8, 2012 7:56PM ADT
Hundreds of home care clients in Nova Scotia are on edge after being told services in the Halifax and Windsor areas could soon be disrupted due to a strike.
Georgia Pollard says she relies on the help she receives from home care workers.
"Monday, Wednesday, Friday they come and wash my hair and give me a shower,” says Pollard.
She says they also help with housework and some cooking, but that help may be put on hold if more than 350 home care and home support workers with Northwood go on strike.
Employees are in a legal strike position and a contract vote was held today.
The union is recommending workers reject the latest offer. If they do, they will be off the job by Monday.
Joan Jessome, president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, which represents the workers, says the main issue is scheduling.
"Currently in this contract, workers, in order to get eight hours of work a day, they have to be available for ten hours,” says Jessome.
John Verlinden of Northwood Homecare Inc. says the scheduling reflects their clients’ needs.
"It's not us that determines the schedule, it's really the needs of the clients and we have to keep that in mind that the clients needs may not fall within an eight to four hour day. We're talking about breakfast, lunch, supper, bedtimes, and things like that,” he says.
Still, the issue is a concern for employees, says home support worker Scott Blackmore.
"It's really hard and difficult just to sit there and wait and know you're not getting paid for that time sitting there you have to wait to go to your next client," says Blackmore.
Northwood says in the event of a strike they will treat each case individually to provide clients what they need.
"In some cases it may be with family members, in some cases it may be with the other agencies that are able to fill in, and in some cases it may mean moving an individual to a hospital bed," says Verlinden.
Pollard says her daughter will help her out but she's hoping it won't come to that.
"I do wish they'd solve it because it'll make it hard on my, my daughter," she says.
Voting took place Wednesday. The final count is expected at 9 p.m.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster