After five years without a wage increase, BCGEU/NUPGE members of the Native Court Workers and Counselling Association of B.C. are demanding parity.
Burnaby (17 Sept. 2014) — On September 12, workers at the Native Court Workers and Counselling Association of B.C. voted 98 per cent in favour of strike action, if necessary, to support their demand for parity with other Aboriginal workers in the province.
Native court workers push to have wage parity with other workers who provide aboriginal services
In 2003, the B.C. Liberal government passed the Community Services Labour Relations Act, which created a sectoral bargaining unit for Community Social Services Employers Association (CSSEA) members who provide Aboriginal services. But the native court workers were never brought into this agreement, due to a lack of commitment to funding by the government.
“Placing these workers into the CSSEA agreement would bring these employees up to the industry standard,” says Stephanie Smith, President of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE). “This is about fundamental fairness. Aboriginal people deserve the same wages and benefits as other public employees doing similar work.”
The Association, which is funded by the B.C. government, should be included in the Community Social Services Employers’ Association (CSSEA) Aboriginal services bargaining unit, the union says. Starting wage for a native court worker is only $31,800, compared to $42,000 for an aboriginal service worker under the CSSEA agreement.
B.C. government has refused wage increases for native court workers since 2009; wages lagging behind the wages of others doing similar work
Employees working as native court workers province-wide have had wage increases amounting to only nine per cent since 2002. Meanwhile, B.C.’s inflation rate has gone up by more than 18 per cent in that time. The workers haven’t had a raise since 2009 and their collective agreement expired in 2011.
“Our members at the Native Court Workers and Counselling Association have sent a strong signal to government that five years without a raise, and three years without an agreement, is too long,” says Smith. “They provide valuable services to Aboriginal people within the court system and deserve fair compensation for their work, properly funded by the government."
The union and employers are requesting assistance from the B.C. Labour Board to mediate the dispute, and have dates scheduled for September 16 and 18. Native court workers have been BCGEU/NUPGE members since 1981.
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