7/20/07

Full-scale Vancouver gov't union strike likely Monday

Thursday's job actions by Vancouver and North Vancouver, B.C. civic workers have not created serious disruptions, but union leaders are indicating they will launch a full-blown strike as early as Monday. Outside city workers at Vancouver's waste transfer station walked off the job Thursday afternoon. "On Monday morning, we could have full pickets out," said Mike Jackson, the CUPE Local 1004 boss, which represents about 1,800 outside workers in Vancouver.

"We're telling the employers you have 72 hours from tomorrow [Friday] morning to get us to the table to get a deal done, or else," he said. Unionized outside workers staged walkouts at four City of Vancouver job sites Thursday, including the waste transfer station in south Vancouver, Jackson said.

Meanwhile, Vancouver's inside workers voted Thursday on what the city said was the final contract offer. They were expected to reject it and issue strike notice Friday morning and walk off the job Monday, Jackson said.
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Services such as day care within city facilities, building inspections and parking bylaw enforcement will be affected if inside workers carry out job action or refuse to cross picket lines.

On Thursday, about 400 outside workers participated in rotating job actions, such as a ban on overtime and two-hour information sessions.

At the waste station in south Vancouver, trucks full of garbage continued to come in, unload and leave, because managers had taken over for the employees who walked off the job.

Jackson said the labour dispute could have been avoided.

"Eventually we're going to get a contract. Why can't we get a contract now and why do we have to go through this?" he said.

Jackson said a full-scale strike is inevitable even if CUPE Local 15, which represents the inside workers, votes to accept Thursday's offer.

"If they accepted the offer and we did not have a collective agreement on our end, we will still have picket signs up and (CUPE) 15 would not cross picket lines," he said.

Jerry Dobrovolny, a spokesman for the City of Vancouver, said residents, businesses and employees will all be affected if job actions escalate Friday.

"It's hard to be specific about what would happen until we know which service the union chooses to withdraw," he said Thursday night.

In North Vancouver, about 200 unionized outside workers walked off the job Thursday.

There were no talks scheduled between CUPE Local 1004 and city negotiators as of Thursday night.

Results of the vote by inside workers will come out early Friday morning.

(cbc.ca)

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