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SRD and unionized workers at impasse over Strathcona Gardens wages

SRD chair recognizes difficulties of pandemic, but is ‘hopeful that our employees will reconsider’
Unionized workers at the Strathcona Gardens will be continuing negotiations for increased wages. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror

Negotiations on a new collective agreement between workers at the Strathcona Gardens recreation centre and the Strathcona Regional District have come to a standstill.

A tentative agreement to provide general wage increases over four years from 2021 to 2024 of two per cent for the first three years followed by 2.25 per cent in the fourth year.

“These wage increases are on par with other recently negotiated agreements on the North Island and Mid Island including the City of Campbell River, the City of Courtenay, the Town of Qualicum Beach, the Village of Cumberland, the Regional District of Nanaimo and the Comox Valley Regional District,” says a release from the SRD.

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However, the Strathcona Gardens workers did not ratify that agreement.

The Mirror has reached out to the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 union for comment.

“We know that the last 18 months of this pandemic has been challenging for everybody,” said Chair of the Strathcona Regional District, Brad Unger, “but we also know how important it is that we continue to provide recreation and leisure services to our community, within the parameters of the public health orders, particularly for our youth and seniors. We are hopeful that our employees will reconsider the mediated tentative agreement to avoid a potential lengthy labour disruption.”

The collective agreement between the SRD and the union, which represents 82 unionized workers at the recreation facility, met to negotiate the terms of a new agreement. The previous agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2020. During negotiations, the two parties were able to agree on all but a few issues. The most significant issue not agreed to was wages.

In March, the SRD applied to the labour board for a mediator in the issue, who helped draft the tentative agreement.

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