The University of Victorias auditorium and cafeteria are behind picket lines today as the Canadian Union of Public Employees launches job action at five of the provinces largest universities.
Royal Roads University CUPE 3886 members have yet to serve strike notice but they are also planning action today holding an information picket outside the Habitat Cafe cafeteria 11:45 a.m - 12:45 p.m.
The UVic university centre which contains Farquhar auditorium and the campuss second-largest cafeteria have been behind a picket line since about 5 a.m..
The CUPE workers have been without a contract since 2010. Local 951 represents office, technical and childcare workers. Local 917 represents janitors, painters, carpenters, housekeepers, lifeguards, food service and other support staff.
CUPE 951 has resolved its non-monetary issues with the employer but Local 917 was not able to do so after a bargaining session Wednesday.
The locals represent 1,300 support staff at UVic and have been in a legal strike position since Sept. 5 when intermittent job action began. Among that support staff, UVic has about 150 management-excluded employees and 70 to 80 positions that have been deemed essential services
After two years of bargaining, mediation and more, the issues remaining are minuscule and yet a settlement has not been reached, according Rob Park, president of Local 917.
The union said it doesnt want to inconvenience students as part of its job action, but that at this point its impossible to avoid, he said
We are starting to run out of options that wont disrupt students, Park said. Im hoping this will move us to a conclusion at the bargaining table.
The unprecedented job action for this Local is certainly an indication of where the relationship has gone at UVic which is very unfortunate as we are very interested in concluding a deal.
Doug Sprenger, president of Local 951, said although members are on the picket lines, they are not stopping anyone from entering the auditorium or cafeteria. UVic has, however, closed those services including graduate and undergraduate admissions offices, he said.
No classrooms or services like the library have been picketed.
When we started strike action on Sept. 5 we never imagined wed still be out picking buildings today, Sprenger said. This is the first time weve started to picket within Ring Road. Ring Road is one that wraps around the university. Most services are located in buildings within the ring.
The government was able to resolve its labour dispute with its own employees. Its time now for university employers to resolve their disputes with their employees, Sprenger said.
The B.C. Government and Service Employees Union and the provincial government reached a tentative labour deal, announced on Sept. 28, that kills plans to privatize the Liquor Distribution Branch.
The agreement provides a four per cent wage increase over two years for more than 25,000 public service workers. Workers went on strike four times and refused to do overtime to back their demands.
In contract talks, the university has offered no pay increase in the first two years, as required under the B.C. government's net-zero mandate. Employees would get a two per cent hike in the third year retroactive to July 1, 2012, and a 1.5 per cent hike on April 1, 2013.
The union has asked for protection against inflation increases and improved job security to ensure laid-off workers can apply for other vacancies, receive retraining or be eligible for enhanced severance payouts.
Members of these two CUPE locals received two per cent across-the-board increases in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, noted UVic spokesman Bruce Kilpatrick, in an earlier interview.
That said... the university has made it clear that we believe they deserve an across-the-board increase in 2012 and 2013. It just has to be consistent with the provincial cooperative gains mandate and in keeping with the times and what the university can afford, Kilpatrick said.
That mandate allows both sides to negotiate modest wage increases through gains in productivity or cost savings so that taxpayers dont have to pay more and services arent reduced.
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