Naomi’s Family Resource Centre staff and supporters were out in Winchester Tuesday afternoon explaining their labour situation to Winchester residents. They have been receiving a positive response from the community. Morin Photo

WINCHESTER – Staff at the Naomi Family Resource Centre, (NFRC) are not going to be locked out of their jobs, according to NFRC’s interim executive director Renee Moores.

Rumors that staff at the Naomi’s Family Resource Centre in Winchester are facing a planned lockout by their employer, which brought out staff members and their supporters to Winchester on Tues., Nov. 1.

Staff at Naomi’s Family Resource Centre have been in negotiations with their employer since January 2021.

Moores stated in an email, “The NFRC is open for business as usual. The employer has no plans to lockout. Any rumour of a lockout is untrue.”

The staff represented by Ontario Public Service Employees Union OPSEU/SEFPO local 434 were parked across from the Winchester Library and across from the Winchester Public School on Tues., Nov. 1, handing out leaflets and explaining to anyone who was interested what their concerns were about a potential lock out. The support they have been receiving from the Winchester community has been wonderful according to Brittney Laviolette a staff member from Naomi’s House.

She explained, “We have been bargaining with Renee Moores, the executive director of Naomi House. We are at an impasse. What we are at an impasse over, is her trying to force us to a 16-hour workday.”

She said the staff was not happy about the idea and wanted to preserve a healthy work-life balance.

“We are not asking for wages.”

Laviolette speculated that the reason for the 16-hour a day request, was to ensure that Naomi’s House is appropriately staffed.

“Naomi’s is staffed 24/7 and we are never without a staff member,” she said.

“She actually has not given us a logical reason as to why.”

Laviolette explained that staff need to be able to recharge in order to help the women that need them when they come to Naomi’s House.

Alex Lane, a representative of OPSEU was supporting the Winchester group as they talked to people on the street.

He said that the executive director chose to make the decision that inevitably signals a lockout is inevitable. Lane is referring to something called a “No Board” report. Such a report is a notice to staff that the government will not be stepping in to appoint a conciliation board to settle a collective bargaining dispute. The notice may set the time and date when a legal strike or lockout can take place.

He said the executive director filed a “No Board” report.

“Renee Moore pulled that trigger, so she intends to lock us out,” he said.

“The staff do valuable work and are just asking for respect,” said Lane.

We have been going door to door here in Winchester and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Lane said the bargaining team with OPSEU has been willing to meet with the executive director, but has not been successful in securing any negotiation dates.

Laviolette added that after a year of good faith bargaining, the staff feel they have just been pushed aside.

“We are just asking for respect,” said Lane. “We are asking her to come to the table and get this done.”

He said the bargaining team is willing to meet right up to any deadline.

Naomi’s House currently has 13 staff working in Winchester.