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As B.C. community social services negotiations are set to resume this week, the employer association has finally responded to a request to discuss essential services. The unions asked for preliminary discussions in late September after the first negotiating session in nearly three months ended with no progress.

The B.C. Liberal provincial government’s Community Social Services Employers’ Association (CSSEA) failed to respond to two letters from the union bargaining association until a day after a set deadline. The unions have now filed the request with the B.C. Labour Relations Board. CSSEA has not yet confirmed a date for the initial meeting. 

CSSEA’s delay in meeting to discuss essential services indicates they do not understand that negotiations are in serious danger of faltering. Employers continue to refuse to address key issues: employment security during a time of cutbacks and lay-offs, healthy and safe workplaces, and fair work practices.

Some employers may attempt to discuss essential services with members and activists. Stewards should contact their Local immediately if this happens and refuse to engage with management on this issue until receiving direction from their union. There are established guidelines that govern the level of service that we are required to provide in the event of job action that allow for a balance between effective withdrawal of service, while still providing for the health and safety of clients and residents.