Employees at the Community Justice Society in Halifax took a strike vote today that was 100 percent in favour of job action. The eight restorative justice workers are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4764. They have been without a contract since March 31, 2021.
CUPE National Representative Mark Cunningham says the employer’s wage offer is an insult to these workers, “who do not have an easy job.”
“They work with all of the people harmed by a crime, including the victim, the offender and the community,” says Cunningham, “It’s a difficult population to manage.”
In addition, he says, the work has become more complex as the employees now work with adult offenders as well as youth, yet wages have not increased to reflect the new responsibilities.
“The services these workers provide have historically been undervalued,” says Cunningham. “They perform work that is similar to probation officers, yet they earn considerably less.”
Local 4764 President Denise Russell says case loads have become unmanageable and recruitment and retention of staff is a major issue. “Most of the current employees have less than two years of experience,” she says. “It’s hard to provide services efficiently when there’s a revolving door and we are constantly training new staff.”
She says restorative justice workers save the government a lot of money by helping to reduce the flow of cases through the courts and mitigating the likelihood of reoffending.
“We want a salary adjustment to bring us up to an appropriate level,” she says.