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Pressure mounts in BC

CUPE members from four BC universities targeted the University of British Columbia campus January 5 in their sixth day of action demanding a resolution to stalled contract talks. Staff from UBC, the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University and the University of Northern BC have been bargaining for months but negotiations have been going nowhere.

While pickets marched before the administration building, the bookstore, the ice rink and the mailroom, the presidents of the seven locals from the four campuses held a news conference to announce their demand that a special mediator be appointed.

The message to government and employers: January 19th is their “drop dead day.” In other words, effective January 19 actions at the four universities will escalate daily unless a settlement is reached.

The growing tension on campus reflects mounting frustration in the education sector province-wide. The government has refused to provide employer associations with the direction or authority to settle issues such as job security, workload, pay equity, benefits and wages. As a result workers in the college sector and K-12 – also frustrated by the lack of progress at the bargaining table – are planning job action. CUPE 379, representing Burnaby schools, is set to strike January 20. Other CUPE locals in the K-12 sector could soon join them.