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Pickets at Naramata Centre

Update: The CUPE Local 608 bargaining unit at the Centre at Naramata voted to reject the centre's proposal for a new collective agreement.

The employees rejected the proposal by over 80 percent, according to Tom O'Leary, CUPE National representative.

"I'm frustrated the employer made us vote," he said. "But I'm pleased that the employees rejected the offer. Starting Thursday, we are on strike and will be picketing outside."

O'Leary said by his count, approximately 40 employees are impacted and that roughly 37 voted, with the employer challenging the ability of four to be counted because they were casual employees.

The centre issued this statement on the matter: "The Centre has proposed extending, for two years, all of the provisions of the previous agreement, including wages and benefits, plus agreeing to limit further contracting out beyond its food services and grounds maintenance."

The centre has been addressing pressing financial issues for some time and has been considering four options for its future. Two options include contracting out some or all of its operations, and two include closure -- one permanently and one for an extended time.

The centre has chosen to pursue one of the options which involves limited contracting out, an option which presents the least disruption to the people who use the centre, the people who work there and the local economy.

The contracting out of food services and grounds maintenance affects primarily six of the 30 unionized employees. This contracting out plan commenced last December under the terms of the previous collective agreement with a plan to implement this spring.

The union is taking job action intended to prevent the centre from pursuing the contracting out options.

The centre will now consider what other options remain available.

Workers at The Centre at Naramata will be voting on a final offer from their employer today, Wednesday.

The vote is required by the Labour Relations Board when an employer requests it.

Employees will be voting at the centre's McLaren Hall between 2 and 4 p.m. Results should be known shortly after the close of voting.

Workers at the centre recently served 72-hour strike notice to their employer following the breakdown of bargaining.

In response, the centre 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."

More details to come.


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