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NELSON Well-known negotiator Vince Ready walked away from the table here today after the city, which two weeks ago locked out its workforce, was unprepared to negotiate.

Why did they [city] call us back to the table? said CUPE Local 339 president Bev Lapointe. What a shame it is to have a top-negotiator like Vince Ready walk away because the city wants to have their cake and eat it too.

Our message to Mayor Dave Elliott is you cant lockout your city workers and deny Nelson residents their vital city services and expect us to come back to the table begging you for a contract, Lapointe said. There is no way to get around negotiating. Locking us out and refusing to negotiate is no solution.

City workers were locked out after they refused to accept the citys demand to have the power to eliminate their jobs through contracting their work to private contractors.

I dont know why the city talks about flexibility when they cant even be flexible enough to keep a professional negotiator talking, Lapointe added. This is a real shame for Nelson and a disappointment for our members who hoped the city was finally prepared to talk.

City workers are the first municipal workers to be locked out in British Columbia in recent memory. A week ago over 600 residents celebrated public services and marched to city hall demanding that city services be restored, an end to the lockout and the negotiation of a fair collective agreement.

CUPE Local 339 represents 74 city workers who, prior to the lockout, provided quality public services such as waste and garbage collection, transit, snow removal, road repair and maintenance, engineering, bylaw enforcement, water and sewage treatment, parks and recreation, cemetery and city finances.

For more information, please visit http://lockoutnelson.blogspot.com

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Bev Lapointe, CUPE Local 339 President, (250) 354-7975;
Diane Kalen, CUPE Communications, (778) 229-0258.