Board decision comes despite union’s repeated efforts to return to bargaining table
VICTORIA—Yesterday’s decision by the board of the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) to close all nine branches of the library system and lock out its workers only serves to punish members of the public who have made the GVPL one of the busiest library systems in Canada, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
The lockout, which begins on Sunday at 5 p.m., will affect more than 300 employees who, as members of CUPE 410, have been struggling to achieve pay equity with equivalent City of Victoria positions during a labour dispute with the Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association (GVLRA) that is now in its sixth month.
“They’re not only locking us out—they’re also locking out the thousands of library patrons who depend on the service we provide,” says CUPE 410 president Ed Seedhouse.
“The library board is punishing the public to make their point, which is that they don’t want pay equity.”
Seedhouse says that the employer is misleading the public by claiming it is eager to negotiate, noting that CUPE 410 has made at least four attempts to return to the bargaining table but has been rejected in each case.
“Given the many efforts we’ve made just to be able to talk with the employer, Christopher Graham’s quote in the board’s press release—which suggests that we need to be more willing to talk—is, frankly, ridiculous. We have been trying to get them to talk to us for months now.”
Seedhouse said that CUPE 410 is booking a room for Monday morning and has invited the employer to return to the table.
“On Monday we will be prepared to bargain,” he said. “The board chair has said that we have to get back to the table, and we couldn’t agree more. So we’re hoping the employer will finally be willing to do that.”
Contact: Ed Seedhouse, CUPE 410 president: 250.588.9565
Tammy Simonds, CUPE representative: 250.812.7197
Dan Gawthrop, CUPE Communications: 604.999.6132