Brockville union rally Tuesday over Bill 195

CUPE President Fred Hahn (top) and OCHU President Michael Hurley (bottom) hold a news conference on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The union groups say the province's Bill 195, which handles COVID-19 emergency orders, is breaking significant sections of collective agreements. (CUPE/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

BROCKVILLE – The leaders of two health care, social worker and municipal worker unions say the Ontario government’s Reopening Ontario Bill 195 is trampling on “significant sections” of collective agreements.

Canadian Union of Public Employees President Fred Hahn and Ontario Council of Hospital Unions President Michael Hurley held a news conference Monday morning ahead of their rally dubbed “Restore Our Rights: Abuse of Power Betrays Heroes.”

Hahn and Hurley says workers made sacrifices early on in the pandemic because it was a health care emergency. But Hahn says employers are now breaking “significant sections” of collective agreements, allowed under Bill 195, which he called “extraordinary” and “unprecedented.”

“To have those same front line heroes, who have endured so much, who’ve helped our communities through this crisis, to also have their legal rights withheld from them in an indefinite way is untenable,” Hahn said.

Hurley says losing the right to keep shift schedules, being able to work in the same community and job elimination with no notice are some of the liberties being taken by employers.

“It’s occurring in institutions that actually have no COVID cases,” Hurley told Newswatch. “That has not prevented employers…from using the powers under the emergency legislation to change shifts, to change jobs, to redeploy, et cetera,” he said.

Asked whether the Ontario government removing the orders would lead to problems to respond to a possible second wave this fall, Hahn says employers and unions can “negotiate mechanisms” for workers to do their job.

“But that isn’t what Bill 195 does. It doesn’t facilitate people working together as a team to deal with what may come in the future. It simply removes people’s legally bestowed rights and gives all the power to one side of the equation to just issue orders without consultation,” Hahn said.

Union members will demonstrate outside local MPP Steve Clark’s office Tuesday at 11 a.m.

CUPE President Fred Hahn (top) and OCHU President Michael Hurley (bottom) hold a news conference on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The union groups say the province’s Bill 195, which handles COVID-19 emergency orders, is breaking significant sections of collective agreements. (CUPE/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

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