There were loud shouts on Main Street in front of MPP Vic Fedeli’s office Friday morning at the Save Our Community Rally, which was also broadcast live at Queen’s Park in Toronto.
“Fair pay, and a fair say!” and “We want contracts!” and “Save North Bay!” echoed down the block with North Bay Police blockading the road.
Windy conditions with rain turning to snow didn’t deter the 250 people representing many labour organizations: OPSEU, Unifor, Nipissing University Faculty Association, OCUFA, Ontario Nurses Association, and the North Bay Labour Council.
Elsewhere in North Bay, locked-out workers with Unicor 103 continued picketing action outside the North Bay Motor Coach Repair Centre on Wallace Road.
Up at the Education Centre on College Drive, striking professors held up cars at two entrances from getting to Canadore College and Nipissing University. City buses are not crossing the picket lines
At the Main Street rally president of the North Bay Labour Council, Henri Giroux led the crowd in chants for worker rights. The labour council recently said that MPP Vic Fedeli didnt’ go far enough when he told the Ontario Legislature the Liberal government is hurting Nipissing.
Hecklers denouncing the Wynne government turned on MPP Vic Fedeli when he addressed the crowd. With a request from Giroux for people to save comments until after the speeches, the workers quieted.
Fedeli said it was his job to fight for people in the Nipissing region. “We are a community in chaos.” Fedeli told the crowd he delivered a letter to Premier Wynne’s office yesterday restating the labour woes in North Bay. Fedeli relayed his recent visit to the North Bay Regional Health Centre and his surprise to learn that 60 beds have really gone into storage at the five year old hospital.
During the rally, the Ontario Nurses Association introduced a new campaign called “The Truth Hurts.” The nurses warn the government that the public has a right to know what is really going on. There was a promise to have a full force of nurses at a planned rally on November 30th.
Unifor 103 President Andy Mitchell was on hand saying a proposal was presented to the ONTC but they haven’t responded to it yet. “People are willing to fight till their last breath. We called them but they are sticking firm. This isn’t about money this is about breaking the will of good hard working citizens.”
Brian Stevens, a North Bay resident and 38 year employee of the ONR is now the National Rail Director with Unifor. “Premier Wynne has to get involved here. She would not allow this to happen in Southern Ontario. There is more to Ontario than taking the subway up to Eglinton Ave.”
Nipissing University Faculty Association President Susan Srigley was leading professors who are heading into the fourth week of their strike.
Srigley says the faculty is ready to come back to the negotiating table.
Srigley explained the Nipissing University offering. “They say they are including something in their offering which is not part of the negotiations. It is just an automatic step increase.
The provincial average of across the board increase or ATB is 5.8% over 3 years. We want 4% and they are offering 2.75%.”
Nipissing University Communications Officer Bob Pipe gave this statement today. “Our negotiating team is in regular contact with the provincially appointed mediator and we remain committed to returning to the bargaining table as soon as the mediator advises that a return would be productive.”
Meanwhile the strike at Nipissing University has had trickle down effects. Chartwells of Nipissing University and Canadore College has laid off cafeteria staff.
Nipissing University Faculty Association’s Angela Fera has set up a fundraising compaign at https://www.youcaring.com/cafeteria-staff-laid-off-at-education-centre-471577#.VkzrJsAvP04.facebook
So far $1,500 has been raised including a pledge from professor of Social Welfare and Social Development Larry Patriquin for $300 to help the cafeteria staff laid off a month before Christmas.