January 31, 2012
Salvation Army of Canada reverses position; reinstates health coverage to workers protesting poverty wages
Workers of the Booth Centre, local unions and community groups will celebrate a victory at 11am at 171 George St., Ottawa, after the Salvation Army backed away from its threat to cancel the health benefits coverage of striking employees. Initially, this event was intended to denounce the Salvation Army's cancellation of benefits, but it is now a celebration due to the Army's change of heart.
During a strike, it is customary for the employer to continue the benefits plan for its employees until they return to work, occasionally with the union reimbursing the employer for the premiums. However, in the case of the workers of the Booth Centre, the Army refused the Public Service Alliance of Canada's offer to reimburse premium costs, effectively threatening to cancel the existing benefits plan.
Larry Rousseau, the PSAC's Regional Executive Vice President for the National Capital Region, said: “We of course have extensive experience with a range of employers across Canada; rarely have we witnessed this kind of recalcitrant behaviour by an employer, much less a registered charity.”
The Salvation Army of Canada issued a press release on January 27 claiming to have arrived at an agreement with the PSAC “that will allow employees to continue to receive the important benefit coverage moving forward during strike action.” This is untrue. Only on Monday January 30, after being contacted by the PSAC on the heels of its press release, and under pressure from a growing alliance of worker and community groups, did the Salvation Army offer, in writing, to accept PSAC reimbursements for health coverage.
Bill Riopelle, president of Local 73100, said: “We hope this is a sign that the Salvation Army is reconsidering its position, and that it will do the right thing and come back to the negotiations table with a fair offer.”
Speakers at the press conference will include John Gordon, National President of the PSAC, and Denis Lemelin, National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
Date Modified : 2012/01/31