Next week’s Qualicum Beach town council meeting has been cancelled, but the public isn’t seeing much other direct impact yet from the staff lock-out.
Union members of CUPE Local 401 had given strike notice as of July 26, but they only banned overtime. Then town council locked staff out as of 3 p.m. last Friday, July 31.
“A line of communication is open with the union and there are some ongoing discussions,” chief administrative officer (CAO) Daniel Sailland said Tuesday. He said there isn’t much impact on things like the relocation of the fire department to the new hall by the roundabout, with volunteer members still able to do much of that work. The Ocean Mile Swim scheduled for this weekend has been cancelled.
Sailland did say there is a lot more work for the town’s exempt (non-union) employees, with management doing things like collecting garbage.
“Yeah I’m just about done here, then I’ll go home and shower and go to the office to do the rest of my work,” said deputy CAO John Marsh around 2 p.m. Tuesday while collecting garbage in Chartwell.
He said the usual garbage collection staff are good, hard workers who taught him how to operate the truck.
Since Friday afternoon, management has covered essential services including janitorial, garbage and basic parks work, Sailland said.
On Friday as the council lock-out took effect, about 70 people rallied in front of town hall in support of the union workers calling on council to “get back to the table and figure it out,” as employee Ben Miller put it.
About 50 union members are locked out, having given their leadership a 94 per cent strike mandate in May after their contract expired in 2013.
Local 401 vice president Laurence Amy has said wages are the main sticking point and they are fighting for the same two-per-cent annual increases neighbouring public employees have negotiated.
According to a council news release, “the town made genuine attempts to come to a negotiated resolution,” including mediation, increasing the offer and adding an $1,800 signing bonus, but said “the union is fixated on getting a minimum of two per cent a year as well as other concessions.”
While an essential service order will maintain areas like fire, police, airport and key water services, there will be reduced capacity or closures at places like parks, the civic centre and community hall. The aquatic centre, transit and recycling are run by the RDN and will not be affected.
Watch The NEWS, our website (www.pwbnews.com) and www.qualicumbeach.com for the latest developments.