LRB rules against strikers

Striking workers at a Port Coquitlam credit union branch have had their application to picket other branches denied by the B.C. Labour Relations Board.

Eight members of MoveUP, formerly known as the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 378, have been on strike at the Shaughnessy Station branch of Westminster Savings Credit Union since Jan. 22 in a dispute over changes to its pension plan and job security. They have been without a contract for two years.

The union wanted to be able set up picket lines at other branches, including the nearest one at Sunwood Square in Coquitlam. The union also asked to do the same at the company’s headquarters in Surrey and its member service centre in New Westminster.

In a hearing held the first week of April, the union argued the company was performing work and services at other branches that, if weren't for the strike, would be done at Shaughnessy.

But in a ruling handed down July 4, LRB vice-chair and registrar Komi Kandola said Westminster Savings was not doing work at other locations that would have been performed at the Shaughnessy branch if it wasn’t for the strike. Although many members have chosen not to cross the picket line at Shaughnessy and go to other branches, they had the same choice before the strike, she wrote.

“I find it is the member, not the employer, who is choosing where the work is being performed,” Kandola said in the ruling. “I find the member is essentially engaging in ‘self-help’ and is choosing where to obtain banking services, as the member has always been able to do, both before and after the strike.”

Westminster Savings recently announced it will shutter the PoCo branch in the fall because of declining in-branch visits and transactions, and the high cost of renovating the branch to match the credit union’s new look and upgrading equipment. In its announcement, the credit union maintained the closure of its only unionized branch had nothing to do with the dispute. 

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