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NORTH COWICHAN, B.C. CUPE workers have voted 94 per cent in favour of a strike that could disrupt local tax collection if the district corporation does not agree to a fair settlement before the end of June.

The 120 workers, members of CUPE Local 358, have reached an impasse at the bargaining table. And they are prepared to strike to back several key demands. One involves the very definition of an employee.

This employer has played fast and loose with the definition or status of our members, said Local 358 President Paul Richards. For example, one of our members is still on probation after six years. This is unfair and the employer is clearly abusing our collective agreement in this and other ways.

Other issues include seniority and equal pay for work of equal value. The local has recognized that the women workers in administration are underpaid and is determined to remedy the situation in this round of negotiations.

District workers provide clerical services, utilities, water and sewage treatment, parks maintenance and childrens day programs as well as other municipal services to North Cowichan residents.

The collective agreement expired on December 31, 2000.


Contact: Paul Richards, CUPE Local 358 President, (250) 715-5275 (cell); June Ross, CUPE National Representative, (250) 616-6638 (cell).