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CUPE BC leader offers to help end Abbotsford strike

Jul 26, 2006 02:15 PM
 
Lack of third-party mediator ‘unfortunate’ but quick solution possible, says Barry O’Neill

ABBOTSFORD – The leader of B.C.’s largest union is stepping forward with an offer to help end a month-long dispute between municipal workers and the City of Abbotsford.

CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill, who represents 70,000 members across the province, says he’s offering any assistance possible to resolve the impasse between the City and members of CUPE 774, following the City’s announcement earlier this week that it would not agree to mediation.

“It is unfortunate that the proposal to send this dispute to a third party mediator was rejected by the employer,” said O’Neill, “but regardless of why that happened, the people of Abbotsford expect negotiations to move forward. We all owe it to the community to reach a speedy resolution.”

O’Neill said the two parties are “not far apart” and that a solution could be reached within days. Given the relatively few remaining issues still on the table, he added, community events such as the Abbotsford Air Show and B.C. Seniors Games, among others, need not be impacted by the dispute if both sides can reach a positive result.

“I have spoken with the CUPE local and informed them that I will be there day and night with community leaders and whoever else might be interested in bringing this dispute to some closure,” said O’Neill. “In that regard, I’ve already had a number of calls from senior’s groups as well as others with concerns. So I’m glad to help any way I can.”

CUPE 774 members began job action on June 26 after more than a year of bargaining. Outstanding issues include wages, the length of the contract and job security.

The 463 union members work in parks and recreation, sewer, water, city vehicle maintenance, city hall administration, taxation, bylaw enforcement, and fees and licenses.

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Contact:

Barry O’Neill, CUPE BC president: (604) 340-6768

Dan Gawthrop, CUPE Communications: (604) 999-6132