Penticton & South Okanagan News
Strike notice served
Workers at the United Church's Naramata Centre have served 72-hour strike notice to their employer following the breakdown of bargaining.
The CUPE 608 members say they provide a wide range of services to keep the facility running year-round. Bargaining began in early April and the union took a strike vote on April 23. The union plans to begin job action with an overtime ban.
"Centre management issued notice just before Christmas, that it intends to contract out about half of the union jobs. There was no advance discussion, and no attempt to partner with the staff or the union to talk about options," said CUPE National representative Tom O'Leary.
The union is concerned that management at the centre reacted too quickly to grasp at a solution that views unionized jobs as the problem. We have tried to address contracting out issues at the bargaining table, but have had little success so far."
The centre has been seeking solutions after grappling with financial issues in recent years.
On Tuesday, they issued a statement that said: "Despite strike notice and job action of the bargaining unit employees of the centre, we are optimistic about plans for radical restructuring of the ministry and business of the centre. We are focused on resolving this current situation and ensuring no impact on our guests.
Last summer, in response to continued financial pressure, the centre was presented with four options by external consultant Colliers International. Two options included contracting out some services and two options included closure of the operation.
The Union is taking job action intended to prevent the centre from contracting out options.
We began implementing planned changes in December, including contracting out grounds maintenance and food services. This would impact primarily six out of the 30 unionized employees. The Collective Agreement sets out the provisions for such changes.
In these times of unprecedented change, we are called to the unknown and face adaptive challenges."
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