January 21, 2015 - 6:40 PM
NARAMATA - Naramata Centre, a pillar of the community since the late 1940s, is closing its doors after nine months of labour struggles, declining revenues and a failed plan to push forward.
A release late Wednesday, Jan. 21, says the board of directors decided to pull the plug effective immediately, sending some 34 workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees off the picket lines and out of work.
Naramata Centre is a program and retreat centre owned by the United Church and adds other services in Naramata. Management triggered a labour dispute last May when it tried to restructure and cut costs by outsourcing some of its programs.
The centre tried to keep going by raising $500,000 but according to their release, short-term funding wasn't going to solve its problems.
"The review concluded that the Centre could not continue to operate in a feasible, sustainable, and responsible manner on a long-term basis," the release says.
In May 2014, 30 unionized employees began striking in response to a plan to replace long-term staff with new lower-paid and non-unionized positions. In November the union filed an application to bring both sides to the bargaining table and that application remains in front of the Labour Relations Board.
In response to the closure announcement the union says it will look to renew discussions with church representatives.
“We have had 30 employees on strike and on a picket line at the United Church’s Naramata Centre for over eight months. This dispute has always been about fair treatment of loyal employees and we will seek fair treatment as part of any closure of operations and discussions on the future of the property,” CUPE National Servicing Representative Tom O’Leary said in a statement Thursday.
Anyone who contributed to the fundraising campaign will be contacted soon to determine if they want a charitable donation receipt or their money back.
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— This story was updated at 1:57 p.m., Jan. 22 with information from the union.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015