Over 70 youths with criminal backgrounds could be on the move in the London region next month if workers at a local youth agency are unable to reach a deal with their employer.
120 employees at Craigwood Youth Services, which has a detention centre in Ailsa Craig and two locations in London, are threatening to walk off the job if they do not sign a new contract, which would uproot the youths under their care.
OPSEU Local 166, the union representing the workers, has set a Dec. 11 strike deadline according to Jonathan Guider — a youth worker at Craigwood and steward for Local 166.
“The youth will be uprooted from the care they are currently getting, and we do not want this,” Guider said. “We are not bargaining a strike. We do not want to bargain a strike, but at the same time, you have to care for the caregiver.”
Local 166 voted in favour of a strike back in June, more than two years after their last contract expired. About 90 per cent of members voted in favour of strike action.
“[They want] wage freezes across the board despite the rest of the provinces getting wages increases of 50-70 cents an hour, we’re being pushed to zero…Our two lowest paid classifications are having cuts to their wages and their vacation time,” Guider told AM980.
Craigwood, which is primarily funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, offers services to troubled youth throughout southwestern Ontario — including Middlesex, Essex, Lambton, Oxford, Huron, and Perth counties.