Two sides to meet November 22
Neither snow, nor sleet nor driving rain could keep CUPE college support workers from their appointed rounds on the picket line yesterday and today across the province (see photo gallery). The two days of strike action follow two years without a contract. The campuses were virtually all shut down, with CUPE locals reporting that few students crossed the picket lines.
Picket lines were up starting at 6am yesterday at the College of the Rockies (CUPE 2773), College of New Caledonia (CUPE 4951), Camosun College (CUPE 2081), North Island College (CUPE 3479) and Vancouver Island University (CUPE 1858). On Monday Vancouver Community College (CUPE 4627) led off the job action in Vancouver.
The CUPE workers are pressuring the provincial government to come across with the same deal it recently approved for the same work at universities: 0-0-2-2 per cent wage hikes on four-year, no concession collective agreements.
The college locals have been without a contract since 2010. All the CUPE university workers in BC now have new contracts with the exception of CUPE 3338 at SFU, which has refused to settle because of problems it has with its pension plan.
The coordinated job action has pushed the provincial government and the Post Secondary Employers’ Association into calling a meeting with senior CUPE representatives tomorrow. The government has been the stumbling block in these negotiations with the colleges, not the employers. BC’s CUPE colleges coordinator Ian McLean says, “It is solely due to the strong show of unity and commitment by CUPE college workers across British Columbia that this meeting with government is happening.”
McLean said he is “cautiously optimistic” about tomorrow’s meeting, adding that “we are always ready for any interaction that could lead us to a fair negotiated settlement”.