Some 370 Douglas College support staff workers will be taking a strike vote after negotiations for a new contract broke down this afternoon. Negotiations broke down over fair wage increase. Some 370 Douglas College support staff workers will be taking a strike vote after negotiations for a new contract broke down this afternoon.
Vancouver (20 Sept 2004) - B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union president George Heyman (Vice-President NUPGE) says a fair pay increase for support staff—who are mostly women—is the stumbling block that brought bargaining to a halt.
“It’s scandalous that talks hit the skids when Victoria is sitting on close to a billion dollar budget surplus,” says Heyman. “These workers are the backbone of our post-secondary system, and they play an important role in the education experience of thousands of British Columbians.
“Yet all the Campbell government has on offer is three years without a wage increase.”
Heyman says college support staff have had no raises in five of the last seven years, and a total pay boost of only 2.42 per cent in the other two. Factoring in inflation, he says workers’ real incomes have fallen by more than nine per cent during that period.
“These workers can make a legitimate case that a fair wage increase must be part of any settlement at colleges and institutes,” says Heyman.
The union is seeking a seven per cent raise in a new four 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 strike vote is expected to be scheduled for the first week of October.
Meanwhile, talks for more than 620 BCGEU/NUPGE members at BCIT resume Sept. 20. A fair wage increase and benefit parity with instructors are the key issues in this set of talks as well, says Heyman.
In all, about 2,500 BCGEU/NUPGE members are involved in support staff bargaining with eight colleges and institutes across the province. Their contracts expired June 30, 2002.
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.