Union asks government to audit Red Cross home support service agreement

 FREDERICTON: The Union representing the Home Support Workers, CUPE Local 4598, filed a complaint with the Minister of Social Development to audit the practices of the Canadian Red Cross concerning the transportation allowance to its workers.

“We believe the Red Cross did not respect the Service Agreement signed with the government for 2009 and 2010”, said the President of CUPE Local 4598, Thérèse Duguay.

“The Service Agreement stipulated that at least 75% of the transportation allowance is paid to home support workers to compensate for travel to and from clients’ homes. Presently, the Canadian Red Cross is refusing to tell us how the 75% of the transportation allowance was paid to the home support workers”, explained Duguay.

“The Support Workers are presently only receiving $0.12 an hour for mileage. Therefore, we are asking the Department to conduct an audit of the books of the Canadian Red Cross on the transportation allowance”, added Duguay.

“Since October 1st, 2011, the wording for transportation allowance in the Service Agreement has been changed and we would like the Minister to advise us the administrative costs claimed by Red Cross to deliver payment of all transportation allowances for the home support workers”.

In August, the Minister of Social Development, Sue Stultz, announced an additional $4.4 million to increase funding to home support agencies to $16 per hour with a requirement for agencies like the Red Cross to pay its workers a minimum wage of $11, as of October 1st.

“At the present time, this increase has not been paid to the workers. Most of the Home Support workers are women, who live below the poverty line. They don’t have full employment and the highest paid worker at Red Cross receives 9.65 $ an hour after ten years of services. Even with an increase to $11 an hour, we would be the lowest paid in the Maritimes province. When you compare this with people doing the same work in other provinces, the difference in wages is huge. For example, in 2008, in Nova Scotia, they received $15.62 an hour and in PEI, $19.19.”

In New Brunswick, there are 57 home support agencies which employ 3,300 workers. This afternoon, a petition signed by 2,469 New Brunswickers will be presented at the Legislative Assembly by the MLA for Nepisiguit, Ryan Riordon. The petition is asking the Provincial Government to adequately subsidize the services of home support workers so that the workers receive wages and benefits worthy of the value of their work. The petition is also asking that this service becomes an accessible public service and an equal quality for the entire province.