Support for striking workers

CUPE National President Paul Moist attended a meet and greet at the Centre at Naramata, Tuesday morning, to show support for striking workers.

The centre employees have now been picketing for the past 90 days.

"The workers are coming up to almost three months on the picket line and as national president I wanted to come and meet every single one of the striking members and pledge the full support of CUPE National to assist them to bring this dispute to a successful conclusion," he said.

The visit comes on the heels of a rally led by Moist outside the offices of the United Church in Burnaby on Monday.

Activists and strike supporters called on the church to ``do the right thing`` and work with the 30 CUPE staff at the church`s centre to negotiate a fair contract and stop contracting out local jobs.

"We are trying to draw attention to this dispute and kickstart some discussion," said Moist. "The BC Conference owns this centre and we feel they need to involve themselves if there is going to be a resolution. They have been hands off so far."

One of the key questions, he added, is contracting out one third of the workers' jobs here, (the centre), to the lowest bidder. To us that seems completely at odds with what the United Church stands for.

Jim Simpson, director of strategic partnerships and development with the centre, said Monday, "In general, we would say that while unfortunate, the Union cancelled all bargaining dates since May 15, the centre remains open and willing to bargain with CUPE 608 in order to find a resolution to this labour dispute. It has been and continues to be the main goal of the centre to settle this dispute and return to offering our programming."

As of June, all summer programs and events were cancelled at the centre. The reason given at the time was there was no collective agreement between the employer and CUPE Local 608 bargaining unit.

Centre workers at Tuesday's meet and greet said the situation has been frustrating at times, but they are bonding and keeping their spirits up.

"The staff is pretty solid together," said worker Erica Wolfe. "But I don't see any bargaining or negotiations or actual willingness between management and employees, and it creates a feeling of resignation."

The workers started picketing at the centre on May 15.


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