Community living and family services workers to return to bargaining

Latest strike action involved 3,900 members – employer calls for a return to the bargaining table

After two weeks of rotating job action in community living and family services, the Community Social Services Employers’ Association has invited the multi-union bargaining association back to the bargaining table.

“We welcome a return to negotiations. We also hope that other public sector settlements will encourage this employer to enter into negotiations with a serious proposal that we can recommend to our members,” says BCGEU president Darryl Walker.

The starting salary for a residence worker in 2002 was $16.83 an hour. Today they are paid $15.54 and hour. Inflation has further eroded the spending power of their salaries.

Two weeks ago, nearly 3,400 community living workers went on strike. The job action affected the two largest community social service agencies in the province, the Developmental Disabilities Association (DDA) and PosAbilities, as well as agencies in Victoria, Prince George, the Kootenays, Coquitlam, Surrey and Vancouver. On the first day of job action, DDA’s Executive Director spoke out to the media in support of the striking workers, improved pay and better government funding for the sector.

Last week, nearly 500 family service workers were on strike in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Kamloops, Nelson, Castlegar, Trail, Cranbrook, and Vernon.

“While we welcome the opportunity to return to negotiations, we are fully prepared to continue job action if we are unable to reach a fair and reasonable new agreement,” says Walker.

Community living workers are represented by BCGEU, CUPE, HEU, HSA and six other unions, which together make up the Community Social Services Bargaining Association. There are 15,000 unionized community social service workers, and two-thirds of them work in community living.

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