Community social services members resume work with overtime ban - #14

Bargaining bulletin

Provincial strike coordinating committee meets Thursday to plan next move

After two days of successful job actions March 8 and 9, highlighted by rallies in cities throughout the province, community social services workers from HEU, CUPE, HSA and the BCGEU returned to work Wednesday, March 10, but continued their work-to-rule campaign with an overtime ban.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, Vancouver and Victoria rallies rang with the cheers, songs and speeches of community social services workers on the first day of the historic, multi-union strike.

“On March 8, 150 years ago, women workers marched to protest low wages and long hours, and today we’re here over the same issues,” said HEU financial secretary Mary LaPlante at the 1,000-strong Vancouver rally. “This strike is about wages, benefits, fairness and respect.”

HEU bargaining committee chairperson Marilynn Rust told the boisterous Victoria crowd of 500 that community social services workers are valuable, their work is important, and their clients are deserving.

“The government must recognize the sector’s worth and live up to its promise to end wage discrimination in community social services now,” said Rust.

On March 9, hundreds of workers and supporters attended more rallies around B.C. And HEU activists addressed the crowds—Sandra Gray and Della McLeod in Nelson, Danielle Sulton and HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt in Nanaimo, and northern region director John Hurren in Prince George.

As workers returned to their jobs March 10, negotiators from the sector’s four unions prepared for a March 11 meeting of the provincial strike coordinating committee to map out job action strategy for next week.

Most of HEU’s 850 community social services workers involved in the strike have been without contracts since April, 1998. They voted 97 per cent in favour of job action last December.