Commissionaires picket in front of Royal Military College

Striking Commissionaires from local 00818 picket outside Royal Military College on Tuesday June 25, 2019, day two of their strike for more sick days and a better uniform allowance. They were joined on the picket line by striking sheet metal workers. Ian MacAlpine/The Whig-Standard/Postmedia Network

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Approximately 50 Commissionaires, who provide security at Canadian Forces Base Kingston, Royal Military College and Fort Frontenac, picketed in front of RMC on Monday morning, the first day of their strike.

The local Commissionaires are looking for more sick days and a improved uniform and shoe allowance.

They were in a legal strike position and of 12:01 a.m. on Monday after union members rejected the Kingston Corp of Commissionaires’ final offer on June 19.

Negotiations between the Corps of Commissionaires and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Local 00818 broke down last week, with PSAC requesting a “No Board” report from the Ministry of Labour.

Local president Fred Ebel said the Commissionaires will be mainly picketing at RMC from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. during the week.

“We’re talking about veterans who are older in age and we’ve been unionized for 10 years and we have no sick leave package,” Ebel said in an interview on Monday.

The union wants five days of sick leave, the Kingston Corps of Commissionaires is offering two days, said Ebel.

“Two is a slap in the face.”

“My main point is we’re talking about individuals who served this country for upwards of 35 years and we’re net being treated with any dignity or respect at all.”

Striking Commissionaires from local 00818 picket outside Royal Military College on Tuesday June 25, 2019, day two of their strike for more sick days and a better uniform allowance. They were joined on the picket line by striking sheet metal workers. Ian MacAlpine/The Whig-Standard/Postmedia Network Ian MacAlpine / Ian MacAlpine/Kingston Whig-Standard/Postmedia Network

Ebel is a retired Royal Canadian Regiment member and military police member.

The top end pay for a Kingston Commissionaire is  $18.18 per hour, but Ebel said the union is not looking for a pay increase as the Treasury Board controls wages.

Ebel wants to see the uniform program increased. Currently, he said, the employee is credited 10 cents per hour towards a uniform and boots.

Over the course of the year, that adds up to between $175 and  $195 per year for a full-time employee but that’s not enough for a proper pair of work shoes to go along with their uniform.

“We’re required to buy shoes to conform with the uniform policy some of us are paying over $100 a year for a pair of shoes but they won’t reimburse us,” he said. “It’s important to note they have taken away $175 away from us.”

Striking Kingston Corp of Commissionaires, members of local 00818 picket in front of Royal Military College on Monday June 24, 2019/Submitted Photo by MaryAnn Laurico/Kingston Whig-Standard/Postmedia Network jpg, KI

Ebel said that Commissionaire spend the greatest amount of time during a shift walking around either working at the front gate of an institution or walking around buildings after hours checking to make sure entrances and exits are secure and no one is trespassing.

“They brag about their uniform policy and they won’t compensate for our shoes.”

No negotiations are planned.

“They won’t negotiate with us.”

Ebel said the workers could stay out for an extended period.

“We’re prepared to go until negotiations re-start.”

Michael Voith, CEO of the Kingston Corps of Commissionaires, was away from the office and unavailable for comment on Monday.

imacalpine@postmedia.com

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