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CUPE Local 1978, representing the 10 employees at the Victoria Senior Citizens Housing Society in Victoria, B.C., went on strike on March 16.

The strike is about wages, said CUPE representative Jim Lamb. The societys directors refuse to standardize the caretaker rate which now ranges from $10.96 to $14.92 an hour for the same job.

But we also want the society to deal with issues like including the existing weekly hours of work in our collective agreement, Lamb said. And maintenance employees should not have to provide power tools at their own expense.

Local 1978 also wants an improved benefit package that would include the medical services plan and a better dental plan. Improved sick leave and vacations are also being sought.

The employees were unionized in June 2000. Since then, they have been unable to reach a fair first collective agreement.