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Canada: Gov't hopeful about MTC guard union.

Dunlop hopeful of settlement in jail labour dispute
Janis Leering: The Mirror

Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop hopes the company that runs the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene can come to a fair contract settlement with its correctional officers.

"The next few weeks should be interesting, because OPSEU's correctional officers are not the easiest to negotiate with," said Dunlop. "They are the most militant group to deal with."

He said Management and Training Corporation Canada, the company running the jail, has done a good job at the facility, and he expects it would want to be fair to its employees.

"I hope there's not a strike disruption, because it's costly."

Dunlop, the Progressive Conservative critic for community safety and correctional services, said if a strike was announced, Management and Training Corporation Canada officials would have to step in and look after the facility, but he hopes the government steps in before it gets to that point.

"The Ministry of Correctional Services should help these people, the same way these people helped it out before."

When correctional officers that worked for government-run jails went on strike last year, Dunlop said the Central North Correctional Centre held many inmates from other areas, to try and alleviate any problems. Since local correctional officers helped out the government during that time, Dunlop said it's only fair to return the favour.

"This is an ongoing saga, and the ministry of correctional services is not my favourite ministry," said Dunlop.

He said as the critic to the Liberal government, he is waiting for more background information on the jail, so he can do his own comparison between the private and public institutions.

"I expect the answers to be truthful, and I want to do a fair comparison (between the facilities). Sure, there have been deaths, and assaults on the guards, but how safe are they?"

"Dalton McGuinty promised he'd turn it over to the public, but I wonder if he'll change his mind, just as he's done with other issues."

Dunlop added he is mainly concerned about keeping the jail jobs in the hands of local people.

"I'm more concerned about having these jobs stay in the area. I don't want to lose them, the stability is important."

There are 204 correctional officers at the jail, who rejected their first contract offer last week. Management Training Corporation Canada was scheduled to be back at the bargaining table with OPSEU today (Feb. 4) and tomorrow. The main issues up for negotiation are salary, statutory holidays, pregnancy and parental leave, and vacation.

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