June 01, 2015 - 7:29 PM
KAMLOOPS – The people who handle the city's recycling contract could be on strike by Friday, but the city says pickup will continue on a normal schedule.
Emterra Environmental employees, the company currently holding the city’s recycling contract, will strike by Friday barring a major breakthrough with management.
Marty Gibbons, president of the United Steelworkers local representing the employees, says the two parties have been in mediation but Emterra’s position is unwavering. The company will not negotiate wage increases for the next two years, he says.
“We want to push every option we can instead of a strike,” Gibbons says, noting a strike mandate is currently in place though.
The union is asking for industry parity or $1,500 extra per month. Gibbons says this is more than reasonable because Emterra employees are living below the poverty line.
“(Employees are) making barely over minimum wage, doing the worst work you've ever seen in your life,” Gibbons says.
He describes the working conditions as extremely dirty and dusty and with hazardous air quality. To put it mildly people include things in their recycling they shouldn’t, such as dead animals and other biologicals, Gibbons says.
Recently the Kamloops facility dropped from 22 to 10 full-time employees, yet Gibbons says management has increased. The union says by reducing one manager Emterra could afford the employee wage increases.
City Environmental Services Manager Glen Farrow says because recycling pickup is done by city employees a strike will not affect residents. If employees do strike, Emterra will have to provide an alternate facility at their own expense.
Emterra’s contract with the City of Kamloops expires at the end of 2015.
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