Community social services workers resume strike Monday

News release

joint release of BCGEU, CUPE, HEU and HSA

Workers in the community social services sector will resume strike action on Monday, March 15. Pickets will go up at selected worksites in the Lower Mainland and Prince George.

The four unions representing workers in this sector B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Hospital Employees' Union and Health Sciences Association - say the government's refusal to address wage and benefit discrimination despite a two-day province-wide strike earlier this week leaves the unions with no other choice but to escalate job action.

"The government should live up to its promises to the women and men who care for and work with the most vulnerable members of our society to avoid further job action," said Cliff Andstein, chief negotiator for the BCGEU.

"It's outrageous that a government that heralds equality for women is refusing to make good on its commitment to end wage discrimination against women in community social services," Andstein said.

"It's a further outrage that thousands of other public sector workers accepted a two-year wage freeze so that the wages of the lowest paid workers - those in the community social services sector - could be brought up, and now the government is saying there's no more money.

"This dispute is about fairness and justice. Our members provide critical services to thousands of British Columbians every day. They enable people with physical or developmental disabilities to live with dignity and independence in their own communities. They provide safe houses for battered women. They care for our children. It's time the government recognized the value of their work."

Community social services workers are employed in four sectors: community living, family and children's services, services to women, and child care. They work with people who have physical or developmental disabilities in group homes, vocational programs, adult day care and child care centres. They provide occupational therapy, day programs, outreach, and help parents with disabilities look after their children. The broad sector includes transition house workers, counsellors, youth workers, speech therapists, special needs pre-school teachers, infant development consultants, and addiction counsellors.

The BCGEU represents 6,500 workers in the sector; CUPE, 2,300; HEU, 850; and HSA, 800.