February 06, 2013 - 5:03 PM
UPDATE: Feb. 7, 2013 - 1:35 p.m.
More than 40 Kamloops family service workers gathered at the north end of the Overlander Bridge just after noon today in support of strike action. At least 100 union members are expected to take part over the course of the day.
BC Government and Services Employee Union (BCGEU) Local 305 shop steward Laurel Scott explained the union's position while smiling and waving to all the vehicles honking in support during the lunch hour Thursday. Because the group has gone two years without a contract, and no negotiations have happened since last summer, the union felt it was time to take a stand and tell the government “it's not okay” to continue with the status quo.
Scott said that the $3 million in cuts that have taken place in the last eight years have resulted in pay cuts to some employees and a reduction in hours to almost all employees. There have also been program and group home closures.
As the lowest paid group in the social services sector family services workers “can't afford to take another zero,” according to Scott. Ultimately “we want to see living wages” for everyone, in every sector and respect, she said.
Thursday's program closures due to the strike mean many people in the community's most vulnerable sectors will go without food and support. For Scott that meant not being able to dish out soup and support to a youth drop-in this evening. She hopes the government sees that the cuts affect not just the employees, but also the community and that the government will see the benefits of their work instead of just the bottom line.
Feb. 6, 2013 - 5:03 p.m.
Strikers began action today in Vancouver and will make their way to the interior tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 7 as family service workers plead their case for more funding.
Nearly 500 family service workers across British Columbia will be taking part in the strike Wednesday and Thursday. In a release this week Canadian Union of Public Employee's (CUPE) community social services coordinator Cheryl Colborne said that “workers want to send a clear message to the BC government: stop putting the squeeze on family services and other community-based social services...Proper government funding is needed for programs for vulnerable families and the workers who support them.”
With starting wages at $15 an hour, a dollar less than 10 years ago, many workers have had to take on second jobs or leave the field completely to find other work.
Family service workers work with vulnerable families, children or youth at risk, people with substance addictions and teenage or single parents in addition to providing family counseling, vocational and life skills training, job placement services, supported child development and more.
In Kamloops more than 100 strikers are expected to be at the Interior Community Services offices on Tranquille Road from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will be taking their action to Overlander Bridge from noon to 1 p.m.
In addition to Vancouver and Kamloops, strike action is also taking place in Nelson, Castlegar, Trail, Cranbrook and Vernon. This family services strike follows last week’s strike by 3,400 community living workers across British Columbia.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013