a strike – seems a quaint idea. these aren’t the days of unions. these aren’t the days of support for unions.

but if these aren’t the days, when will those days come around again.

strikes are as far from quaint as the north pole is to the south. particularly if the strikers are walking the streets in breath-freezing january.

these are the days of bottom line trumps all, even for the salvation army with altruistic goals. internally, the story seems the same as every other corporation – a keen eye on the bottom line, keep costs low.

the salvation army’s motto is ‘dignity for all.’ i guess 'all' doesn’t include their own employees. right now, in ottawa, front-line workers are striking – the people who breathe life into programs that reach out to help those with addictions, with no homes, or the working impoverished who are unable to afford even a one bedroom apartment.

why are they on strike? in large part because management refused to provide a 23 cent per hour raise. right now, the highest wage is $13.50. many other employees earn less than a living wage, perhaps, $11.00–11.50. substantially lower than their counterparts at the shepherd of good hope, which is blocks away and provide the same types of services.

the problem is untenable; these people are dedicated to working with those in need in our city, in this society. by its own annual report, the salvation army has $1.5 billion in assets and an operating budget of over $90 million. most is donations that average citizens offer.

is it just me or does 23 cents per hour seem like a pittance? where’s the concern that the s.a. shows those in need when it comes to their own employees? as it stands now s.a. management will not sit down and talk. instead, they have hired a security firm to fill these roles. I can’t say that’s a great comfort.

worse is that there are 39 executives making on average about $130,000 with the highest salary teetering on the edge of $240,000. the other army brass makes about $30-35,000 for ­­tax purposes. i’m not sure what that means but it certainly sounds like they make more than that and noodle around tax laws. moreover, the provincial and city governments provide funding in the neighbourhood of $2,000,000.  

this wage dispute is not what the s.a. should be about. having front line workers who often have to rely on the food bank to make ends meet is not the s.a.

the strike has lasted almost 2 months. for what? 23 cents. yes, a pay increase but excessive. no. it’s unconscionable that management won’t do them the courtesy of simply sitting down, talking over the issue. negotiating.

you’d think, given the type of job these people do, the abuse they face, the danger that is a reality, the least executives of salvation army could do is show these people the respect and honour they've earned.

or why doesn’t the management take up the slack and work with clients for a week. then consider 23 cents and if it’s a reasonable request. from the outside looking in, this is at best hypocrisy, at worst crass and heartless. perhaps s.a. management should remember the raison d’etre of the organization and act accordingly.


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