After negotiations for a new contract broke down about 620 support staff at the B.C. Institute of Technology in Burnaby will be taking a strike vote to press their demands for fair treatment from the Campbell government.Workers to hold strike vote.
Vancouver (22 Sept , 2004) - B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union president George Heyman (Vice-President NUPGE) says a pay increase for support staff is the stumbling block that brought talks to a halt. And he blames Victoria's rigid zero per cent wage mandate-not BCIT management-for the bargaining conflict.
"These are predominantly women workers who are the backbone of our post-secondary system," says Heyman. "They deserve to be treated fairly by the Campbell government-especially when Victoria is sitting on close to a billion dollar budget surplus."
Like their counterparts at B.C. colleges and institutes, BCIT staff have had no raises in five of the last seven years, and a total pay boost of only 4.42 per cent in the other two.
"When you take inflation into account, it means their real incomes have fallen by about seven per cent during that period," Heyman says. "These workers can make a legitimate case that a fair wage increase must be part of any settlement at colleges and institutes."
The union is seeking a 7.5 per cent pay boost in a new three year agreement, along with parity measures to give support staff the same access to benefit provisions like maternity leave that are already enjoyed by college instructors. The BCIT strike vote is expected to be scheduled for the week of Oct. 11. Their contract expired June 30, 2002.
Meanwhile, bargaining for 370 support staff at Kwantlen College in Surrey who are also members of BCGEU/NUPGE resumes Oct. 13. A fair wage increase and benefit parity with instructors are also the key issues.
College support staff operate audio/visuals services, along with registration, counselling, academic advice and financial aid programs. They also assist in trades training and student labs, maintain buildings, and provide library, IT and computer services.