Correctional workers in the province could be on strike or locked out as early as January 18 after a no board report was filed.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) called for a no board report Friday, setting the stage for the legal strike or a potential lockout after contract talks with the Province stalled.

“There is a crisis in corrections,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. “Our jails are overcrowded, understaffed and increasingly violent.”

OPSEU represents 6,000 correctional employees. A tentative agreement had been reached earlier with the Province, but was turned down by union members.

Deputy Premier Deb Matthews and Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, issued a statement Friday about the union’s move.

"It is disappointing that the correctional bargaining unit has decided to ask the Ministry of Labour for a no board report. Once the no board report is issued by the Ministry of Labour, there is a 17-day period after which the parties are in a legal strike or lockout position.”

The statement goes on to say that the negotiations have been challenging. “However, we remain committed to the collective bargaining process and to working with OPSEU's correctional bargaining unit to reach an agreement that is fair and reasonable to both our employees and the public and is consistent with the government's fiscal plan.”

Correctional workers held an information picket in front of Elgin-Middlesex Dentention Centre Friday morning.

EMDC has long been an area of contention between the ministry and OPSEU Local 108.

There have long been complaints of overcrowding and short staffing.