50 CVRD staff issue strike notice

Cowichan Valley Regional District staff in solid waste management, utilities and Cowichan Lake Recreation issued a 72-hour strike notice Friday to the CVRD, after voting 97 per cent in favour of the job action.

The employees are part of the USW Local 1-1937, and took their strike vote on May 8.

“Contract talks failed after prolonged negotiations,” said a union press release.

The CVRD’s Chief Administrative Officer Brian Carruthers said there are 50 employees involved, and potential strike action could affect Cowichan Lake Recreation, Meade Creek, Peerless Road and Bings Creek transfer stations, curbside recycling and garbage collection and water and sewer utilities.

A full-scale strike is not assured at this point, Carruthers said, as the union can choose what job action it will take, but if one occurs, the CVRD would work with the Labour Relations Board to ensure that essential services continue.

“We’ll respond accordingly with whatever strike action is taken by the union,” he said.

Contentious issues according to the union include no cost seniority language changes, benefits for casual workers who have the qualifying hours, an equitable wage increase for the first year of the contract and premiums for certification tickets compulsory for job postings.

Carruthers described the outstanding issues as related to wages and benefits.

“It is our sincere hope that strike action can be avoided, but the ball is clearly in the CVRD’s court,” the union said.

Carruthers said there are no further talks planned at this point between the union and the CVRD.

“We’ll endeavour to keep the public notified of any labour disruptions that may affect service to the public,” he said.