The Nipissing and Parry Children’s Aid Society has lifted the lockout of its staff and welcomes their return to work on Monday. In a release issued this afternoon, CAS made clear that the lifting of the lock out is not contingent upon consent nor does it list 17 conditions for return to work. CAS board chairman John Stopper says there is no consent necessary on the part of staff or the union. The CAS continues to maintain the main issue between the two sides remains the 85 days of “sick leave” entitlement. Stopper says that is administratively and financially unsupportable as a responsible institution funded by taxpayer dollars. He says they have been advised to and are simply attempting to reign this exceptional perquisite back to normalcy.

CAS Executive Director Gisele Hebert says the society has never sought to undermine the union. She added the union would only authorize a return-to-work protocol that required continuance of 85 days of sick leave available to all returning staff. Hebert says the offer of the employer includes retrospective entitlement of sick leave provisions resulting from an agreement or a ruling. She finished by saying the union categorically refused such offer, leaving the society with no choice but to lift the lock out.

Leaders from CUPE Local 2049 met with the workers they represent today and have announced that the labour dispute that was started by the CAS four months ago will continue. President Debbie Hill says for two weeks, they believed they were working alongside the CAS towards an arbitrated solution. Hill says that was the government’s recommendation and the CAS board passed a motion in favour of it. She says the CAS shocked them yesterday by issuing its “surprise lose-lose ultimatum”. Hill continued to say now after a four-month lockout CAS directors are telling them: “come back to work, but we’ll still foist on you everything that caused the dispute in the first place – oh, and we’ll also get rid of your union at the same time”. Hill says what can someone say when they’re faced with that sort of arrogance and that sort of deception? She says the answer is you have to say “No”.