N.S. families worried about impact of homecare strike
Published Thursday, August 9, 2012 11:58AM ADT
Last Updated Thursday, August 9, 2012 7:49PM ADT
Hundreds of Northwood Homecare employees could be on the picket line bright and early Monday morning after workers rejected the company’s latest contract offer by an 88 per cent margin Wednesday night.
The workers are in a legal strike position and 1,600 clients in the Halifax and Windsor, N.S. areas would feel the impact if support workers decide to walk off the job come Monday.
“We’re going to be mentally struggling with our grandmother or mother to figure out how we can keep her happy and clean,” says Julie Michaud.
Northwood homecare workers normally look after Michaud’s grandmother and she is worried about the impact of a strike.
“Our grandmother, partially because of the mental issues that are happening, doesn’t always want to accept help from her children or grandchildren, but to receive it from homecare, she is always readily available to do so,” says Michaud.
While she is worried about the wellbeing of her grandmother, she says her family’s health is also at stake.
“We will all end up with anxiety and depression symptoms. It’s stressful taking on a new full load, trying to take care of a woman that’s 93,” she says.
Northwood spokesperson John Verlinden says he feels for the families that will be affected by the potential strike, and to call Northwood if they have any questions, but he also says he hopes that a negotiation can be reached by Monday.
Joan Jessome, president of the Nova Scotia and General Employees Union, says she too would like to see both sides go back to the table.
“All of the workers, all day yesterday, you could see it on their face that they’re quite disturbed about what kind of impact this will have in the workplace, in the homes of clients. There’s no question about it,” says Jessome.
But Michaud’s family still has many questions about the impact of a strike.
“We have to try and schedule around, and juggle everybody’s life in order to make sure that our grandmother is fully cared for,” she says.
Jessome says the lingering issue in the dispute is the two hours of unpaid availability that's required for workers per shift.
The union says the workers will be ready to strike as of 7 a.m. on Monday unless progress is made in negotiations over the weekend.
The workers have been without a contract since March 31, 2010, and negotiations have been ongoing since last November.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Suzette Belliveau and The Canadian Press