VICTORIA The possibility of job action looms for workers with the Capital Regional District (CRD) and its subsidiary Capital Region Housing Corporation, after talks broke off with the employer last week. The Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association (GVLRA) refused to remove several contentious concessions from the bargaining table. Additionally, several items that the GVLRA recently approved for the City of Victoria and its CUPE workers have not been provided for CRD workers.
The GVLRA is demanding that the CRD joint pay review committee, in existence for 25 years, be scuttled in favour of what the union considers to be a more adversarial and costly arbitration process. Mark Robinson, President of CUPE Local 1978 described this demand as “archaic, paternalistic, and a throw-back to a different time. We have jointly rated all jobs under a new job evaluation plan without the need for arbitration. This has been a real feat for an organization as complex as the CRD. Now we are told to just go away.
Robinson said the GVLRA has now reneged on finalizing pay equity payments for CRD women workers in the lower pay grades, a commitment made in 1992. It also wants to roll back established hours of work which caretakers gained three years ago. This would impact workers at some 42 housing projects under management in the region. “Caretakers and this Union will not allow this retrograde demand to see the light of day, noted Robinson.
The GVLRA is also demanding auxiliary employees be denied rest breaks, and that 13 employees be exempted from the collective agreement, although they do not meet the Labour Code definition for exemption.
A strike would affect summer recreation programs at Juan de Fuca, Panorama, Sooke and Saltspring recreation facilities as well as regional parks maintenance and lifeguard services.
The CRD and the Union have agreed on essential service levels, which have also been approved by the Labour Relations Board. This agreement will ensure water and sewer systems are maintained with reduced staffing, and that most controlled wastes are taken care of at the Hartland landfill should job action be necessary.
Jim Lamb, CUPE National Representative,
Mark Robinson, President, CUPE Local 1978