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BC Government should be embarrassed over Community Social Services Agreement

VANCOUVERCUPE bargaining committees who represent 2000 of the 15,000 Community Social Services Workers are not supporting the tentative agreement reached between the BC Government‘s Community Social Service Employers’ Association (CSSEA), and the majority of the Community Social Services Union Bargaining Committee (UBA).

These workers who lost so much during the Liberal “reign of cuts”  from 2001-2005 are being offered poor compensation and are being denied the most basic of what they were promised—the return of fully-funded sick benefits.  Since 1999 social service workers have fallen over $1.50 an hour behind cost of living increases and the meager wages offered in this tentative agreement will mean these workers will continue to fall behind inflation.

CUPE BC President, Barry O’Neill: “Who would imagine that with the boast of wealth in this province, those we depend upon to support and counsel the most marginalized in our society will still have  less to live on in 2009 than they did in 1999. What a legacy for a Liberal decade.”

In a field where recruitment and retention have reached critical heights this contract makes things worse. According to Hansard (21-Oct-05) even employers have gone on record complaining directly to government about the deplorable wage rates and their inability to recruit and retain the best workers because of it.

O’Neill says, “That is why CUPE negotiators cannot support the deal. Because the wages in this sector cannot support a family, our members cannot afford to lose the bonus promised by Ms Taylor,. Therefore, we are not recommending job action.  However, some members are even saying that they will be treating the bonus as severance pay and will be looking for alternate work. They may vote yes, but  that does not mean that anyone really supports this deal.”

Barry O’Neill is available for telephone interviews to discuss CUPE’s concerns. He can be reached at 604.340.6768

The people being denied equity in pay and benefits work in Community Living;  with children affected by a variety of disadvantages and in support of battered women; and in child care. They will receive only 80% pay when they are ill. In addition, it seems they will receive the lowest wage increases and the lowest signing incentives of all the sectors. 

CUPE is the country’s largest and primarily community-based union in Canada (530,000) and in BC (70,000).