While the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) prides itself as an ‘ecological jewel’ and a living paradise for locals and visitors to escape to, the 33 front-line workers who maintain the RBG’s gardens, grounds and buildings, are facing the harsh reality of falling behind as their wages have not kept pace with inflation in decades.
“While RBG’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) saw his salary increase by 40 thousand dollars from 2006 to 2014, the workers who tend to the ecological jewel received 0 per cent for 8 of the past 20 years,” said Sandra Walker, president of CUPE 5167, representing RBG workers. “While they love the gardens, our members have truly fallen behind in ‘paradise’ because at the end of the day they have to feed their families and not just admire the beauty of RBG.”
Over the years, the workers were forced to accept none to very minimal wage increases to keep the RBG operating financially. As a result of their sacrifices to keep RBG afloat, the workers’ wages have fallen behind drastically and they are now attempting to address the wage issue in this round of bargaining talks. Their last contract expired on January 15, 2015. Both the union and management are scheduled to return to bargaining talks on July 14 with the help of a provincial conciliator. The workers voted unanimously, a 100 per cent mandate, to secure a fair contract that corrects the wage gap, including job action if necessary.
“According to the CEO, last year was a positive year for the RBG, with a new five-year strategic plan that aims to position the RBG as a global leader in the next decade,” said Walker. “Our members support this plan and they’ve worked hard to help RBG turn the corner, and it is now time for management to help workers with real wage increases.”
To highlight the economic challenges faced by the workers, they will hold a ‘Still Falling Behind in Paradise’ rally on Wednesday, July 8 at 5:00 p.m. outside of the RBG entrance at 680 Plains Road West in Burlington.
For more information, please contact:
CUPE 5167 President
CUPE National Representative