Child care workers join escalating strike in community social services sector

News release

joint release of BCGEU, CUPE, HEU and HSA

Hundreds of striking community social services workers from around the Lower Mainland joined the picket lines of child care workers on strike today at the Vancouver Society of Children's Centres at Library Square in downtown Vancouver.

Today's action is the latest in escalating job action by the 10,000 workers in this sector belonging to the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Hospital Employees' Union (HEU) and Health Sciences Association (HSA). Picket lines went up at various sites today in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

Cliff Andstein, chief negotiator for the BCGEU which represents the child care workers at the Vancouver Society of Children's centres, said today's action is intended to draw attention to the government's unfair treatment of child care providers. Striking workers circulated a petition urging Children and Families Minister Lois Boone to end wage and benefit discrimination in the sector.

"Thousands of BC families rely on child care workers to provide a safe and caring environment for their children," Andstein said. "Each and every day, parents are able to go to work, with the security of knowing that their children are well cared for.

"If children are truly a priority for this government, it must ensure that that child care providers are treated with fairness and respect at the bargaining table."

Job action will continue over the weekend. HSA members at all eight facilities will remain at essential services levels. BCGEU members at selected agencies in the Lower Mainland, Kamloops and Prince George will continue their job action. HEU will remain off the job at selected sites on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

"After three weeks, the government has failed to send any signal that it values the services provided by community social service workers," said HSA negotiator Julio Trujillo. "Their intransigence is a slap in the face to our members and the thousands of BC families who rely on these services."

Community social service workers are employed in four sectors: community living, family and children's services, services to women and child care. The BCGEU represents 6,500 workers in the sector; CUPE, 2,300; HEU, 850; and HSA, 800.