No contract yet in community social services - #25

Bargaining bulletin

Member actions keep heat on politicians B.C.’s 10,000 community social services workers including more than 800 HEU members entered week 12 of province-wide job action while their representatives continued to meet with government negotiators in make-or-break contract talks.

While slow but measurable progress continues at the bargaining table, HEU members are keeping up the political pressure and maintaining a public profile.

In Cranbrook, community social services workers grabbed the attention of MLA Erda Walsh May 20 with a picket line in front of her constituency office protesting the government’s apparent reluctance to honour its commitment to end wage and benefit discrimination in the sector. The Kootenay care-providers have worked hard to remain in the public eye in the face of a high-profile civic employees’ work stoppage that began Feb. 24.

In Victoria, the letter-writing campaign to newspapers is going strong and successfully affected the opinion of one local columnist who first wrote negatively about community social services workers and their issues.

“We were really upset and insulted. Members were so angry, they immediately bombarded the paper with faxes to set the record straight,” said Victoria strike committee member Jennifer Neely, who spoke with the reporter and was quoted in a follow-up column. “Everyone felt much better about the second article. We told our stories and got our message across — government inaction is detrimental to workers and clients.”

Striking HEU workers in Victoria marked their third “Good Deed Sunday” May 23 with a cleanup detail on the popular Galloping Goose Trail. Regular demonstrations at the legislature continue and a picket line shut down operations at the Public Sector Employers’ Council offices May 27.

“Through a range of creative job actions, our demand for an end to wage and benefit discrimination are front and centre in communities across the province,” said acting secretary-business manager Zorica Bosancic. “And that’s due to our members’ hard work and commitment to fairness and justice.”