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Management at the Family Health Organization is publicly blaming its striking employees for the collapse of a woman at the Medical Centre in Owen Sound. They say that the strikers knew about a pre-existing condition she has, and deliberately targeted her. This is a serious allegation. But it can be called into question with a bit of logic.

How could the FHO assume that the strikers knew she had such a condition unless she was a patient of the FHO? I understand that she is indeed a patient of one of the doctors there, and that management hired her as a replacement worker during the strike knowing of her condition. And how did the media come to this knowledge? Because the FHO released it.

If I were a patient of the FHO, I’d be a worried about my own confidential medical history. Since professional staff have been out for 8 weeks now, who’s handling my file and what are they doing with it?

I was walking with the picketers on the day that most of the confrontations happened. I can tell you for a certainty none of the clashes that have so upset the FHO were instigated by people on the line.

Those women – nurses, clerical workers and custodians – have been extraordinarily patient through 8 weeks of waiting for their employer to go back to the bargaining table. And still their employer refuses to negotiate an end to the strike.

No one goes out on strike on a whim – especially if it means you might lose your job. And it’s not like the workers are asking for the moon – just equal pay for equal work and more than the miserly 1% per year and a cut in their pensions that was in the last offer from the FHO.

The behaviour from the doctors and management of the FHO – the cussing out of their own employees as they walk the line, of union reps, and throwing refuse at a striker – is a sign of a toxic workplace.

In fact, an OPSEU survey of FHO employees in 2016 revealed 94% of staff reported feeling “very stressed” and two thirds feeling harassed or bullied. Some 70 people have quit the FHO over the past 10 years.

It’s the lack of respect for the workers that bothers me most. Now, if the doctors who own the FHO would show some, maybe they’ll go back to the bargaining table with a respectable offer.

David McLaren

Neyaashiinigmiing

 


 

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