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Renfrew County personal care workers begin strike

Personal care workers in Renfrew County are on strike as of 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Ontario Public Service Employees Union says their employer, ParaMed who are owned by Extendicare, were only willing to begin negotiations as of this Friday, several days after today's strike deadline.

Nelson Ross Laguna, staff representative for OPSEU who is bargaining on behalf of the striking workers, says the employees voluntarily have gone two years without a wage increase.  Now, the employer wants to continue that freeze for three more years.

"This is an employer who makes millions and millions of dollars. Extendicare is a very wealthy corporation," he said. "The CEO took in $1.1 million last year."

He says they've also been asked to travel all over the county to help various clients as opposed to serving clients in one area, as well as being asked to work strange, unpredictable hours.

"So you could be told you have to work for 12 hours, even if the day before you're only going to work for four or six hours," he said. "It'll essentially wreak havoc on any sort of ability to have a life outside of work." 

Laguna says clients are largely supportive of the personal care workers, and some have said they'll refuse care from the temporary workers hired by their employer.

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