Labour Council Pledges Support for Striking Nurses

The Windsor and District Labour Council has thrown its support behind striking nurses from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

The 86 members of the Ontario Nurses Association walked off the job Friday after rejecting the health unit's final offer.

ONA Bargaining Committee President Barb Deter was among more than a dozen nurses at a meeting Tuesday night where the labour council agreed to join members on the picket line and lobby all levels of government for a solution.

Deter says the council recognizes the value in the services the nurses provide.

"They're for us. They know our services are valuable in the community. They know we protect them from a lot of infections and communicable diseases and that's not being done right now which is very scary. We want to bargain. We're ready any time. Willing, ready and able and they haven't called us."

She says the council's support means a lot.

"With their support and the public seeing that all these people are there for us, that might get people also involved. Bring out other people, the public, because a lot of the public aren't aware of what we do and maybe they'll try to find out now."

Deter says the general public may not realize the importance of the health unit's nurses.

"We're kind of behind-the-scenes kind of people. We're the ones that prevent those cases of syphilis, we stop the TB cases from spreading, immunizing the kids and right now there's measles coming down here. That's been on the news. Measles is on its way and it will be here and we need nurses out there to immunize people and we're not there which is a total shame."

Deter adds wages are the main sticking point in negotiations.

Since the strike began Friday, the health unit has cancelled seven of its services including the Healthy Schools Program, Grade Seven Immunization Clinics, home visits for new moms and breastfeeding clinics.

There's no word yet when the two parties will get back to the bargaining table.