Dash cam video of interactions between union members and a Qualicum Beach garbage truck contradict an Aug. 20 story in The NEWS.
Last Wednesday CUPE Local 401 Vice President Laurence Amy told The NEWS that, contrary to a report from town management, union members had not impeded a garbage truck.
“Nope, we’re not blocking traffic,” he told The NEWS Wednesday. “We were following the garbage truck to the transfer station.”
“We’re making a concerted effort to not have emotionally charged things,” Qualicum Beach Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Sailland said as he showed the video to The NEWS on Thursday.
“Ultimately what we’re trying to do is peel the emotion out and say look, these are the facts, lets negotiate around the facts.”
The video, shot by a GoPro camera installed in the truck by the town early in the four-week-old lockout, shows the garbage truck trying to turn into the transfer station in Errington on the morning of Aug. 18 and being blocked by five men — four have picket signs and the fifth appears to be Amy.
“You’re blocked, gotta go to Cedar,” one of the men can be heard saying to the driver, talking about the closest alternate dumping location, south of Nanaimo.
On Friday, asked again about the incident, Amy would only say that “the vehicle did enter and exit the property,” and stressed that no vehicles blocked the garbage truck.
Asked if people or anything other than vehicles blocked or impeded the truck he repeated: “the vehicle did enter and exit the property.” He suggested the incident could become a legal matter.
“This is not a good situation, we don’t like it and it shouldn’t happen,” said Mayor Teunis Westbroek. “The fact that it did happen and (union representatives) lied about it, that’s not a good thing, that’s not going to help anybody. If I was a union employee I would have serious doubts…”
In the video, the garbage truck driver — town financial officer John Marsh — can be heard describing the situation to Sailland by radio. Sailland told The NEWS he was simultaneously on the phone with representatives of the Regional District of Nanaimo, which runs the transfer station.
The picketers can be seen waving vehicles around both sides of the garbage truck, including through the exit lane, to get into the transfer station. Sailland said this quickly became a safety issue and he contacted police.
At the end of the video, after about 15 minutes, the picketers disappear from in front of the truck, Sailland said as the police arrive, and the truck continues into the transfer station.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Brian Hunter confirmed that police did attend the scene and spoke to the “involved parties.”
He said everything appeared to be peaceful so no further steps were taken at that time, but upon reviewing the video two traffic violation tickets were later issued to people involved, though Hunter said they don’t identify people they ticket.
Hunter reiterated that the dispute is not a police matter, the RCMP’s role is to remain impartial and keep the peace.
As the council lockout heads into its fourth week there are no formal negotiations scheduled, but they did plan to meet Monday (yesterday) for an informal, in-person conversation.
Westbroek said despite the conflict he is optimistic and he praised Local 401 President Blaine Gurre for reaching out for the informal meeting and said they are all focused on ending the dispute.
The main sticking point is wage increases with the last town offer of 1.8 per cent annual increases rejected by the union representatives who are holding out for the two per cent increase municipal workers in neighbouring communities received.
A 1.8 per cent increase would add $665 to $1,427 per year depending on the pay rate. Two per cent would add $74 to $158 more respectively.
During the lockout a Labour Relations Board essential service order maintains areas like fire, police, airport and key water services, but there is 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 are not affected.
Sailland said that garbage collection continues but may be delayed. He asked that residents bring garbage back in and contact the town at 250-752-6921 for other arrangements if it isn’t picked up by 8 p.m. on the scheduled day.
For more from the union visit QualicumBeachLockout.com, for more from the town visit www.qualicumbeach.com.