The president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), Warren Thomas, has sent an open letter to Deputy Premier Deb Matthews seeking a guarantee that non-correctional workers working in jails will be safe from harm in the event of a strike by correctional workers.
The deadline is looming for an agreement between the provincial government and the union for Ontario's correctional workers. They will be in a legal strike position on Sunday at 12:01 a.m.
OPSEU-represented employees such as kitchen staff, maintenance workers, nurses, and administrative staff work in correctional facilities but do not belong to the correctional bargaining unit. As such, they would normally continue to work during a strike or lockout.
Thomas believes government plans to use non-corrections managers to replace highly-skilled and experienced correctional officers should be of grave concern to all Ontarians.
"These individuals manage IT workers, policy analysts and correspondence writers," he wrote to Matthews. "They are in no way qualified to supervise the shrewd and violent criminals incarcerated in Ontario's jails. By allowing OPS managers to take the place of correctional professionals, you endanger their lives, the lives of inmates and the lives of Ontarians in the community."
In his letter, Thomas asks Matthews for a written guarantee that non-correctional OPSEU workers will not be at increased risk of harm during a strike or lockout.
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