Huron food service staffers launch strike

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Food-service employee picket

Joyce Wang

"FUCK YOU!" Food-service employees blocked the Huron parking lot with some good old-fashioned picketing. Our money's on the geezer in the black jacket to take down the finger-pointing pussy.

Members of the Huron College dining hall staff went on strike beginning Monday morning after an unsuccessful conciliation meeting with Compass Group Canada, the dining hall’s manager and operator.

Dining hall staff members, represented by Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 144, voted to strike Sunday after the failed conciliation meeting March 19.

Picketers blocked off the Huron College parking lot, allowing drivers to pass through only after strikers explained why and what they were doing. Some students said they waited up to 45 minutes, including a few who said they missed exams because of the picket line.

Last Tuesday, the strike committee brought the employer’s final offer to its members, which was rejected by the members, said Angela Jacques, chairperson for the strike committee.

Terms of bargaining for a wage increase for dining hall staff include a 25 to 40 per cent difference in wages compared to University of Windsor staff, also employed by Compass Group Canada, as well as pay disparity compared to workers on Western’s main campus. Huron dining hall staff’s maximum pay rate is about 60 to 70 per cent of Western’s food-court workers, and wages are $2 less per hour, Jacques said.

“Compass Group Canada is a multinational company, a fairly large company, and the money doesn’t seem to be flowing down to the employees,” she said.

Staff also claim public health is at stake because sick-time provisions aren’t sufficient and staff are forced to work in areas where food is prepared and served when they should be at home.

“We’ve been out since seven this morning and we will be until the employer comes back to the table to bargain and we reach a settlement,” Jacques said. “Until that time, this will continue.”

Each commercial contract negotiated with an account determines what Compass Group Canada can afford for paying employees, said Brenda Brown, VP-human resources for Compass Group Canada, when asked about the wage differences between the Windsor unit and Huron dining hall staff.

Matthew Cole, a fourth-year business management and organizational studies student, said while he understands the motivation behind the strike, the picket line inconveniences students.

“It’s unfortunate… they are showing no respect to students,” he said. “I waited 45 minutes and my friend missed an exam.

“I think they would be able to get more respect if they didn’t go about it this way,” Cole said. “People are getting mad and angry instead of listening to what they have to say.”

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