Developmental service workers across the Greater Toronto Area are exercising their right to strike after their union — the Service Employees International Union Healthcare — was unsuccessful in securing paid sick days and better wages for employees.

The employees, who work for Kerry’s Place, a service provider for families with children, adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder, work extremely long shifts that leave them susceptible to preventable errors and physical injury, according to a press release.

Read: Indigo workers unionizing for enhanced benefits, paid sick days

In addition, with Bill 124’s wage restraints in place for the past three years, employees are concerned systemically low wages will hamper recruitment and retention efforts. And workers have expressed concerns that senior management at Kerry’s Place do little to address racism directed at the mostly Jamaican- and Nigerian-Canadian staff.

“DSWs are striking because they cannot in good conscious support a workplace that leaves people without safety and security,” said Murray Cooke, union representative with SEIU Healthcare, in the release. “Forcing staff to choose between paying their bills or showing up to work sick is reckless and leaves clients at risk.”

While talks first broke down last Wednesday, in an effort to avert the strike, the union invited the employer to reconvene today; unfortunately, bargaining between the parties ended Sunday evening without progress to resolve the workplace issues.

Read: Liberals introducing legislation on paid sick days for federally regulated employees