Elmwood Residences calls SEIU-West job action illegal, files unfair labour practice application

Elmwood Residences calls SEIU-West job action illegal, files unfair labour practice application
Elmwood Residences Inc. has filed an unfair labour practice application with the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board to stop what it’s calling an “illegal strike” by SEIU-West.

The company runs a dozen group homes for adults with disabilities in Saskatoon, some of their patients require 24-hour a day care.

Support workers at the home issued a strike notice last week, saying they would stop driving patients to recreational activities as of last Friday night.

Elmwood claims they provide an essential service to the public, and because of that, SEIU-West is going against the Saskatchewan Employment Act by calling the strike. The company said the union and employer that provides an essential service, must bargain an essential services agreement to identify the essential services that are to be maintained during a strike.

“Without such an agreement in place, a withdrawal of services by the union risks the residents being forced to live without care and supervision, something they are not able to safely to do,” Elmwood’s executive director Colleen Stenhouse said in a press release.

“We are deeply concerned about the risk this poses to the residents.”

Some of the services include assistance with bathing, dressing, meals and feeding, laundry, medications, and transportation to and from recreation and employment.

But SEIU-West said residents will not be at risk due to the job action.

“The job action we’ve set out is very limited, it takes away non vital activities,” SEIU-West president Barbara Cape said. “That means we’re not going to drive them to a pool party, or our members aren’t going to drive them to the movie theatre. But they will drive to work and they will drive to medical appointments.”

Cape said the goal of the job action is not to disrupt the health and well-being of the clients and patients in the homes.

“Quite frankly, the experts in this situation are the frontline staff, and they would never put their residents at risk,” Cape said.
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