More than 3000 B.C. community living workers going on strike

Striking workers want to send a clear message to the B.C. government: stop putting the squeeze on community living and other community-based social services!

Vancouver (30 Jan. 2013) - Nearly 3,400 of British Columbia's community living workers who support adults, children and infants with disabilities and their families are going on strike for 24 hours, starting Wednesday January 30.

Striking workers want to send a clear message to the B.C. government: stop putting the squeeze on community living and other community-based social services! Programs need proper funding for people with developmental disabilities and the workers who support them.

“Community living workers are caring professionals that make sure the people with developmental disabilities participate in their community and enjoy the best quality of life possible,” says British Columbia Government and General Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) Community Social Services Chairperson Patsy Harmston.

“We enjoy working with people, but many of us can’t make ends meet. Starting wages are $15 an hour, a dollar less than 10 years ago,” says Harmston. “Many of us have had to take on second jobs or are having to leave the work we love.”

Recruitment and retention has become a huge problem in the community living sector. Some employers are opting not to pay the first pay level in the wage grid to better retain staff.

Frontline Community Living BC (CLBC) staff agree that additional funding is urgently needed to address the chronic program and support shortages in community living. More than half of all respondents to a recent survey expressed concerns about the budget-driven funding decisions they had been forced to make, over the previous year, with respect to their clients. More than 40% had been required to cut services or supports that they considered necessary for their clients’ health, safety or well-being. The survey was conducted by the BCGEU/NUPGE, which also represents CLBC workers.

Community living workers are represented by BCGEU/NUPGE, CUPE, HEU, HSABC/NUPGE and six other unions, which together make up the Community Social Services Bargaining Association. There are 15,000 unionized community social service workers, and two-thirds of them work in community living.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

 

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