Aboriginal social workers on strike in B.C.

After six weeks of rotating strikes, community social service workers, including Aboriginal service workers are still trying to negotiate wage parity.

Vancouver (04 Dec. 2012) - Aboriginal Service workers and social workers from Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society (VACFSS) will be on strike on December 4. Striking workers want to send a clear message to the B.C. government: stop putting vulnerable Aboriginal families last!

Since 2004, the B.C. Liberal government has cut $300 million in funding for programs that support vulnerable aboriginal families, recent immigrants, the developmentally disabled, at-risk youth, and children and infants in community-based programs across the province.

Members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) who work at VACFSS will be picketing the head office at 471 East Broadway in Vancouver on December 4 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

"Aboriginal service workers perform the same work as government social workers and support staff. The work is the same, but the employment conditions are not, and they want parity," said Patsy Harmston, Community Social Services Component Chair. Aboriginal workers have inferior benefits relative to direct government social workers.

"Government social workers also just received a two per cent wage increase for the next two years. Community social service employers - including Aboriginal services - have not even made a monetary offer at the bargaining table after six weeks of rotating strike across the province," Harmston said.

Aboriginal services are government social services devolved to aboriginal agencies that support Aboriginal families across B.C. They offer a wide variety of services, such as child protection, family preservation/reunification, foster care, guardianship, and more. Aboriginal service workers are counselors and social workers for families, addiction-related issues, stop the violence programs, but also program managers, settlement and integration workers, and more.

BCGEU/NUPGE represents over 200 Aboriginal service and social workers at VACFSS and four other Aboriginal Services agencies across B.C. including La société de les Enfants (Métis Family Services) in Surrey, Island Métis Family and Community Services Society (Victoria), Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family & Community Services (Kamloops), Haida Child and Family Services Society (Massett and Skidegate) and Northwest Inter-Nation Child and Community Service Society (Prince Rupert and Terrace).

Contract negotiations in Aboriginal services broke off on August 17 and have not resumed. Over 86 per cent of Aboriginal workers support taking job action.

Since October 16, rotating strike action in community services has impacted agencies around British Columbia, including in Vancouver, Kamloops, Prince George Victoria, Nelson, Vernon, Williams Lake, and many others.


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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