Participants and their Direct Care Workers at Variety Place have been locked out for many weeks now, but even one day is too long. We know the participants who rely on our services depend on us and we want to get back to work as soon as possible.
We want to address the misleading public information that we planned to go on strike. We notified the Employer that we were contemplating job action. Job action is always a last resort. We are at the last resort because management has not made a fair offer for four years. We planned to take limited job action to pressure management without harming the participants. We know the participants’ needs and management’s operations well enough to do that. We agreed in our meetings that we would not walk off the job without another vote but had to retain the right when we provided notice. We would never put the participants at risk and would have ensured any actions taken would put pressure on management, and management only.
Yet we are disheartened to find out that management was already preparing for and must have planned this lockout before any strike notice was given.
At the same time, we are uplifted by the many participants and their families who have reached out and provided support during the lockout. We know they understand how valuable our work is to our participants.
We are their advocates, their counsellors and their confidants. We are advocates when our participants share what they desire such as jobs they wish to take on, or activities they would like to be a part of. When our participants are in conflict with themselves or with others, we are there to keep our group homes safe, fun and loving environments. We are a familiar face when they need us. We are a shoulder they cry on, a sounding board for their frustrations and strife. We help them celebrate their victories and gains and pick them up when they fall or when things don’t go right. Our jobs are frustrating but so rewarding and when we see what the positive difference we can make in their lives, we know we are doing our jobs well.
Our team of Direct Care Workers at Variety Place care about the quality of services we provide. Ensuring a fair wage would go a long way in addressing the recruitment challenges we face each day. It would also demonstrate support for the work we do, and acknowledge that our contributions provide value to our community. Is it too much to ask that we be provided with some of the funding that is meant to be directed to front line staff?
We want to return to work. We do not want to be locked out. That’s why we have applied to the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board asking to end this unfair lockout. We hope a third party can instill some fairness in our negotiations.
We want to thank our community that has been so supportive of us during these hard times, and we hope to be back at work soon!
Written by: Hailey Johnson, Direct Care Worker at Variety Place in Outlook