WINDSOR — Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) members working for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Canada are hoping to avoid a strike, heading into conciliation talks with the employer this Friday.
“Our highly skilled registered nurses provide for the health and well-being of a population of more than 6,500 workers, providing quality, cost-effective front-line health care in Windsor,” says ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN. “Our nurses respond to health crises in all medical emergencies, traumas, and critical injuries in life-threatening situations, and yet they are being shoddily treated by their employer. Of the 16 nurses working for FCA, just three are full-time staff – the remaining 13 are all part-time without access to full-time wages or benefits. All nurses hired since 2006 do not even have access to a wage grid – they are hired and immediately frozen at their one and only rate of pay, with no growth or progression. Furthermore, nine of the positions are full-time, but FCA fills just three of the positions with formalized full-time RNs with access to full-time wages and benefits.”
ONA and the employer have had three days of failed negotiations, and the nurses are deeply disappointed that a settlement could not be negotiated. They are aware that being forced to strike would have negative consequences for the health and well-being of thousands of workers at the Windsor Assembly Plant and other city-wide FCA facilities.
Not only do the RNs provide emergency care, they also promote health and safety, provide vaccination clinics, perform audiograms to monitor hearing and perform pulmonary function tests, including fitting workers with respirators to ensure pulmonary protection.
“As Occupational Health Nurses, our members meet the requirements of the Workers Safety and Insurance Board and other regulatory legislation while delivering health services,” notes McKenna. “They ensure that FCA industrial vehicle drivers are healthy enough to drive, as required by the Ministry of Labour. They are vital to the health and safety of the workers, save FCA a great deal of money, and yet have been fighting the erosion of their pension plan, a lack of benefits and wages that have been frozen for years. It’s simply unacceptable from a multinational corporation with billions in profits worldwide.”
ONA is the union representing 64,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.