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Correctional officers protest near Tony Clement’s summer home

PORT SYDNEY, ON, August 26, 2014 — More than 100 federal correctional officers and their families are attending a “Beach Party” demonstration near Treasury Board President Tony Clement’s waterfront cottage in Port Sydney today to protest his department’s unilateral abrogation of sick leave provisions in their collective agreement.

At issue is the federal government’s move to eliminate a bank of 200 sick leave hours, a crucial contract element negotiated specifically for correctional officers who face high rates of injury and illness in their dangerous occupations.

“Mr. Clement claims he is protecting taxpayers, but the Parliamentary Budget Officer has shown that sick leave costs for public servants have a negligible impact on federal finances,” said Kevin Grabowsky, National President of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN).

“The real impact will be on correctional officers and their families, on people who could be forced to work while injured, sick or suffering post-traumatic stress.”

At the same time, the Conservative crime agenda is leading to overcrowded penitentiaries and constantly increasing levels of violence between inmates and against correctional personnel.

“The Conservatives are playing politics with our lives. We hope Canadians remember this when they go to vote next year,” said Mr. Grabowsky, who also denounced the Conservative Party’s evident intention to base their coming election campaign on attacks against public servants.

Rob Finucan, the Ontario regional president for UCCO-SACC-CSN, noted that Mr. Clement’s riding is home to Beaver Creek Institution, a mixed minimum- and medium-security penitentiary. Mr. Finucan said that his members and their families would be doing their utmost to remind the voters of Parry Sound – Muskoka of how their Member of Parliament fails to support the correctional officers who risk their lives to keep residents here safe.

“The people who work at Beaver Creek deserve an MP who works in their interests, not one who helps make their jobs more dangerous and then takes away their sick leave benefits without negotiation,” said Mr. Finucan. “Our members and their families won’t forget.”

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