B.C. community service workers reach tentative agreement

Last-minute agreement contains $600,000 retraining grant, but no wage increases
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 10/18/2011

British Columbia’s 15,000 community-based social service workers have reached a last-minute tentative agreement with the provincial government, averting potential strike action.

In May 2011, 82 per cent of employees voted to support taking job action beginning on Aug. 26, 2011.

The new agreement contains improvement to job security and fair work practices for workers, such as bumping, job selection language and bullying, according to a release by the Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA). The CSSBA represents the nine bargaining units in the 220 agencies across the province.

The government has also approved a $600,000 retraining grant for workers in the sector.

“The quality of care and support we are able to provide is directly impacted by the workers’ job security and working conditions,” says chair of the CSSBA, James Cavaluzzo.

There are no wage increases in the agreement. The British Columbia government is enforcing a “net-zero” policy for wage and benefit costs in public sector contracts.

The agreement comes after almost two years of bargaining. The last contract expired in March 2010.

“Reaching this tentative agreement took a lot of hard work and commitment to serving the needs of British Columbia’s most vulnerable,” says Social Development Minister Harry Bloy. “I commend both parties for their efforts that will result in continued service to those who need it most.”

The CSSBA is recommending approval of the agreement, which will expire in October 2012. Details of the agreement and the ratification process will be released next week.

The CSSBA is made up of members from the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Hospital Employee’s Union, the Health Sciences Association of British Columbia, the United Steelworkers of America, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the Construction and Specialized Workers’ Union, the Christian Labour Association of Canada and the British Columbia Nurses’ Union.

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