Striking workers want landfill to cleanup gender equity issues

Unifor employees at Clean Harbors' Corunna site on strike. 25 November 2021. (SarniaNewsToday.ca photo)

A dispute over gender equity is part of the reason striking landfill workers in St. Clair Township are still on the picket line.

There are 76 Unifor members at Clean Harbors who began strike action November 22.

On Monday, National President Executive Assistant Scott Doherty told a large crowd of the flag-waving union workers that Unifor has backed this fight 110 per cent.

“We are here until we get a settlement that makes a fair agreement for our members and we finally get gender equality in this worksite,” said Doherty. “I’ve had conversations over that last few days with the employer and I’m here to meet with your bargaining committee to see if there’s not a way to get back to the bargaining table to end this dispute.”

Last week, National Rep. Gary Lynch told Sarnia News Today that the 10 to 12 female employees on strike aren’t being treated fairly by the company. Doherty reiterated the message during Monday’s demonstration.

“I cannot believe that we’re having a fight, a dispute over making sure that women have safe and clean facilities. They don’t even have a facility, let alone clean and safe facilities,” he said. “In 2021, in the middle of the 16 days where we’re trying to end violence in Canada against women, we have a labour dispute over gender equity. Shame!”

Lynch also said female employees have been skipped over for job progression at the landfill, and that women are not brought on to be just janitors and be stuck at the very lowest pay scale.

On Friday, Clean Harbors HR Director Brandy McGrath said the company has negotiated diligently and in good faith to reach a renewal collective agreement for the past several weeks.

“The parties have been assisted by a federally appointed conciliation officer throughout negotiations in an effort to complete the process in a fair manner,” said McGrath. “We are continuing to operate the plant safely while the strike is going on and until negations are completed. Costumers should continue to rely on us at that location.”

The last collective bargaining agreement expired on April 29, 2021.