Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Union News

Strike Action Called in Chilliwack

Community Workers pickets going up Jan 30

Released by the BCGEU


early 3,400 community living workers who support adults, children and infants with disabilities and their families are going on strike, starting Wed., January 30.

The 24-hour job action will affect Richmond-based Developmental Disabilities Association (DDA) and Burnaby-based PosAbilities, the two largest community social service agencies in British Columbia. Agencies in Vancouver, Victoria, Prince George, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Kamloops, Vanderhoof, Trail, Salmon Arm, Castlegar, Creston and Cranbrook will also be picketed.

Striking workers will converge at DDA's headquarters at 3851 Shell Road, Richmond starting at 10am on Wednesday.

Striking workers want to send a clear message to the BC government: stop putting the squeeze on community living and other community-based social services! Proper funding is needed for programs for people with developmental disabilities and the workers who support them.

"Community living workers are caring professionals that make sure the people with developmental disabilities participate in their community and enjoy the best quality of life possible," says BCGEU Community Social Services Chairperson Patsy Harmston.

"We enjoy working with people, but many of us can't make ends meet. Starting wages are $15 an hour, a dollar less than 10 years ago," says Harmston. "Many of us have had to take on second jobs or are having to leave the work we love."

Recruitment and retention has become a huge problem in the community living sector. Some employers are opting not to pay the first pay level in the wage grid to better retain staff.

Frontline Community Living BC (CLBC) staff agree that additional funding is urgently needed to address the chronic program and support shortages in community living. More than half of all respondents to a recent survey expressed concerns about the budget-driven funding decisions they had been forced to make, over the previous year, with respect to their clients. More than 40% had been required to cut services or supports that they considered necessary for their clients' health, safety or well-being. The survey was conducted by the BCGEU, which also represents CLBC workers.

The following agencies will be on strike on Wednesday January 30 for 24 hours:


Essential service levels will be maintained.

Further 24-hour job action is scheduled for Thursday Jan. 31 in Victoria, Kamloops, Vanderhoof, Trail, Castlegar, Salmon Arm, and Creston, and on Friday Feb. 1 in Cranbrook.

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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