White Rock city staff issue 72-hours strike notice

The City of White Rock has received 72-hour strike notice from its unionized staff. - File
The City of White Rock has received 72-hour strike notice from its unionized staff.
— image credit: File

Unionized White Rock employees have served the city with 72 hours strike notice.

The move is one for the history books – it marks the first time ever that negotiations in the city have reached this point in prospective job action, according to the union.

However, White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin expressed concern prior to the notice that city workers could strike over issues that are "so trivial."

In a statement issued Tuesday morning, CUPE 402-01 president Mike Guraliuk said the first step will see union members who work at city hall off the job. This includes employees working in bylaw enforcement, pay parking and financial services.

"CUPE was hopeful that the city would enter into last weekend's talks with a renewed commitment," Guraliuk said, referring to three days of mediated bargaining held April 25-27.

"But that is not what we found. Our decision to serve strike notice was made in response to the fact that we saw little progress at the bargaining table, where the city and their representative from Metro Vancouver failed to address key issues."

Union members voted 94 per cent in favour of job action in February. They have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2011.

The city responded to the announcement Tuesday morning, noting the union has been offered wage increases "consistent with settlements entered by the Lower Mainland and other CUPE locals"; of 1.25 per cent for 2012, 1.75 per cent for 2013 and 2014 and 2 per cent for 2015.

As well, "the city has proposed to assist in the facilitation of a CUPE-administered long-term disability plan," the statement notes.

"The city has been, and remains, willing to bargain."

Monday, Guraliuk told Peace Arch News that the weekend talks "did not go well at all," and that members were to meet that evening to discuss plans for going forward.

Key issues include the need for clear hours of work for all employees, fair treatment for casual and part-time employees and long-term disability benefits.

Baldwin told PAN Monday evening that he hoped the situation would not come to job action over "trivial" issues such as long-term disability benefits and an increase in cash-in-lieu.

"To me, it doesn't make sense," Baldwin said, predicting the employees will never catch up the earnings lost during a strike.

"If it was good enough in 2011, why is it not good enough now, with the cost-of-living increases?"

While he would prefer to avoid a strike, Baldwin said "we're not about to increase the cost to taxpayers."

Guraliuk said that if necessary, Friday's planned job action will be followed by rotating action at different city workplaces.


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