Unionized Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) employees are one month into a strike mandate, and closer to taking job action.
“There is an increasing likelihood of job action because the parties are no closer to agreement on many of the key issues,” Local 466 president Scott Rush told Coast Reporter on Feb. 18.
Both parties were expected to meet the next day for further discussions.
Rush said the union is bargaining for “fair wage” increases to “protect our members from loss of real earnings due to inflation.”
They also want fixes to “structural inequity built into the classification system for some recreation positions to ensure that those workers receive equal pay for work of equal value.”
Another issue, according to Rush, is the expanded use of casual employees over the years. “The union wants to fix this by ensuring regular work is performed by regular employees,” he said.
SCRD chair Lori Pratt said “numerous proposals [are] being discussed that include reasonable wage increases, enhancements to benefits, a review of the classification system, and a proposal on casual employment.”
More bargaining dates have been proposed, said Pratt, “to continue negotiating in good faith towards the renewal of a collective agreement.”
At least three meetings have been held since the union’s four-year collective agreement expired at the end of 2019, including one at the end of January, which Unifor national representative Vincet Lukacs attended.
In early January, Unifor members voted in favour of a strike mandate. According to Local 466, “voter turnout was higher than ever before in the history of the local.” The union must give 72 hours before a strike is called and the mandate lasts 90 days.
There are 253 bargaining unit employees at the regional district, according to Rush.
The last time job action was taken was in 1999, when employees were locked out for nine weeks.