Strike for Community Living

Around 20 Penticton Community Living workers joined others all over the province in a job  action on Wednesday.

The workers, who support adults, children and infants with disabilities and their families, carried signs, as they walked up and down the sidewalk in front of the Penticton & District Community Resources Society.

John Laverdure, steward for the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union community living sector, said they have been without a contract for over a year and have many grievances.

“The real concerns are the employees are now making less than what they made 10 years ago. We are getting reduced hours and wages and now they are targeting our benefits,” he said. “This impacts the service we provide to those at risk in the community.”

The Penticton employees were among the 3,400 participating in the 24- hour job action.

The job action affected Richmond-based Developmental Disabilities Association and Burnaby-based PosAbilities, the two largest community social service agencies in British Columbia.

In Penticton, the resources society on Ellis Street was closed for the day.

Currently, the union's bargaining committee is seeking a cost of living wage increase of 3 percent, plus 1 percent to get ahead; reasonable improvements to health and welfare benefits; restoring sick leave entitlement to 18 days per year, paid at 100 percent, realistic reimbursement for expenses like transportation and meals, with proposals to improve employment security and retention of a trained workforce.

They say the government’s position is no funding for wage increases, no money on the table for reimbursement of expenses and that they won’t agree to bargaining committee proposals.

Dianne Lindsey, a community resource worker and steward for the union, said the goal is to get a contract signed and a fair deal.

“We all want some kind of pay raise because we have not had a raise for years,” she said. “With no raise how do you feed your family and cope with cost of living increases.”

The Penticton workers, who braved cold temperatures for several hours Wednesday, received support from the community.

People dropped off bags of food and beverages and passing motorists waved and honked their horns.

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

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