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City workers stage information picket while talks continue
A hearing to determine essential services in the event CUPE city workers go on strike is complete but the union and the city are no closer to a deal, says CUPE vice-president.
The three-day hearing which included CUPE representatives, City of Campbell River managers, and the BC Labour Relations Board, wrapped up Monday.
“We met to establish what would be an essential service – for example, RCMP and drinking water,” Laurence Amy, Vice-President of CUPE 401 says.
If CUPE does decide to strike, under the essential services deal, workers would still be required to provide agreed-upon services. RCMP support staff such as prison guards and records clerks would likely still be on the job, Amy says.
The Vice Chair of the Labour Board will gather all the information from the hearing and make a final decision on what services CUPE would still be responsible for if the union goes on strike.
CUPE workers have been without a contract since 2009 and have met regularly with the city and mediator Debbie Cameron since September.
Despite ongoing talks, Amy says the union and the city are still between $135-and-$150,000 apart on a four-year deal.
“It hasn’t gotten any closer,” Amy says.
CUPE is asking for inflation-type wage increases and stable working hours.
Amy says he was surprised to see the city send 20 managers to sit in on last Thursday’s meeting between the two sides. CUPE sent one employee, one national representative and five witnesses who did not attend the entire meeting.
“They sat there all day, doing nothing,” says Amy.
Mediated talks between the two sides resumed Tuesday, with no further talks scheduled.
Amy hinted last week that if things did not go well at that meeting, CUPE may file for 72-hour strike notice.
Union members voted 88.3 per cent in favour of strike action more than one month ago.
Meanwhile, more than 80 CUPE workers spent their lunch hour on Monday holding an information line and walking the streets near the Dogwood Operations Centre, holding signs and waving flags to show solidarity. Several passing motorists honk their horns in support of the workers.