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Union leaders balk at community social services provincial tentative agreement

BURNABY CUPE Community Social Services Presidents Council, representing over 2,000 workers throughout the province, recommends that their membership vote against the provincial tentative agreement negotiated by the Union Bargaining Association (UBA). Membership ratification votes begin on Monday, March 29, 2004.

The CUPE council rejects the over 16 concessions contained within the agreement and is most concerned with the two-tier wage structures for new, casual and renewed employees, reduction in sick leave and LTD provisions and benefits, and loss of many extended health care benefits. Furthermore, the 2.5 percent equity wage increases that were due in 2002 will not be honoured until 2006

Weve been negotiating for months now, says Derek Wong, President of CUPE 1936, the largest community social services local in the union. But as long as the government ignores the workers and the needs of communities for vital services by cutting millions of dollars more from our budget, we will not be able to bring an agreement to our membership that is acceptable. They are on the front lines and realize just how great the need is out there.

This latest round of negotiations is the Campbell governments attempt to grab another $70 million from programs for B.C.s most vulnerable citizens, says Eileen Podanowski, CUPE 523 member of the bargaining committee and the Presidents Council. The government has already taken $100 million out of social services funding and is now planning even further cuts.

Community social service workers are not alone in their demand that the Campbell government stop the bleeding of these services. To date, 27 municipal councils including Vancouver, Victoria and Burnaby have passed resolutions calling for the Premier to halt the cuts and restore program funding to pre-2001 levels. For more information or a copy of the resolutions, please visit, http://www.cssinfo.ca.

The workers have been without a contract since March 31st, 2003. A rejection of the tentative agreement would prolong the uncertainty in the sector even longer.

UBAs bargaining committee is made up of representatives from 13 unions in over 200 agencies throughout the province. The unions that represent the largest number of workers in this sector are BCGEU, CUPE, HEU and HSA.

There are 15,000 community social service workers in British Columbia providing community services to women, aboriginals, children, families, youth and people with physical or developmental disabilities.


Contact: Bob Toop, CUPE community social services coordinator, 604-787-3120.