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BURNABY—The latest round of province-wide bargaining for the community social services sector has officially concluded with BCGEU members in Aboriginal Services voting in favour of a two-year contract that provides a modest wage increase while protecting health and welfare benefits.

Aboriginal Service workers ratified the tentative agreement by 86 per cent.

The Aboriginal Services collective agreement is now in effect as the Community Social Services Employers Association has also ratified the agreement.

Highlights of the new agreement include:

For all employees working in delegated aboriginal service programs, a wage increase the same as the Government Master Agreement:

  • 1% on April 1, 2012;
  • 1% on August 15, 2012;
  • 1% on April 1, 2013, and;
  • 1% on December 1, 2013;

For all employees not working in delegated aboriginal service programs, a wage increase as follows:

  • 1.5% on April 1, 2013;
  • 1.5% on January 1, 2014;
  • An extra 1% wage increase for all employees at Step 1 within their Grid on April 1, 2013.
  • A labour market adjustment review for all Aboriginal Service, General Service and Community Living classifications.

Aboriginal services are government social services devolved to aboriginal agencies that support Aboriginal families across B.C. They offer a wide variety of services, such as child protection, family preservation and reunification, foster care, guardianship, and more. Aboriginal service workers are counselors and social workers for families, addiction-related issues, stop the violence programs, but also program managers, settlement and integration workers, and more.

Aboriginal Service workers have voted in favour of an improved contract, but it took rotating strike action in community living, family services and Aboriginal Services to get a deal,” said BCGEU president Darryl Walker.

Aboriginal Service workers at Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society (VACFSS) were on strike in December 2012. In late January 2013, nearly 3,400 community living workers went on strike. The following week, nearly 500 family service workers were picketing. Rotating strike action first started in October 2012 and impacted communities across the province.

We continue to believe that the provincial government must reinvest in Aboriginal Services and other critical services that support vulnerable First Nation families across British Columbia and value the work of our caring professionals,” said Patsy Harmston, BCGEU community social services component chair.

BCGEU represents over 200 Aboriginal Services and social workers at Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society (VACFSS), La Société de les Enfants Michif (Métis Family Services) in Surrey, Island Métis Family and Community Services Society (Victoria), Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family & Community Services (Kamloops), Haida Child and Family Services Society (Massett and Skidegate) and Northwest Inter-Nation Child and Community Service Society (Prince Rupert and Terrace).