A strike by 60 Salvation Army employees at a downtown shelter has been averted — for now.
“We want the employer to come back to the table,” Larry Rousseau from the Public Service Alliance of Canada told the Sun late Monday.
As of Tuesday, kitchen and maintenance staff as well as social workers at the Booth Centre are in legal strike position.
The union is representing the Booth Centre workers and Rousseau says PSAC is “always looking to make a deal. We settle 97% of our contracts.”
The key issue is wages.
Booth Centre staff earn roughly $2 to $4 less per hour than employees at the Mission and the Shepherds of Good Hope, and they want parity, said Rousseau.
Kitchen and maintenance staff earn $11.50 an hour while social workers take home $18-$19.
“The Salvation Army does not want to see the union take strike action,” said spokesman Michael Maidment.
Last month, 70% of the employees shot down an offer of a 2% wage hike in the first year, 2.5% the next year and 3% in the final year, including a $500 bonus.
Rousseau said some staff at the lower end of the pay scale use food banks.
The Booth Centre is a homeless shelter for men, serving about 150 clients.
But now, the employees don’t have a contract and there’s a chance the Salvation Army could lock the workers out.
Maidment said a contingency plan is in place if there is a strike.
“The safety and security of the clients we serve is of paramount importance to The Salvation Army, which is why we will continue to meet the needs of our clients,” said Maidment.
In 1997, Booth Centre employees walked off the job seeking equal pay with Sally Ann workers in other cities such as Toronto and Kingston.