NARAMATA – Workers at the United Church’s Naramata Centre have served 72-hour strike notice to their employer following the breakdown of bargaining.
CUPE National Representative Tom O’Leary said that as the United Church centre finally starts to look at how to address long-term financial challenges, employees have been treated as the problem, rather than as part of the solution.
“Centre management issued notice just before Christmas that it intends to contract out about half of the union jobs. There was no advance discussion, and no attempt to partner with the staff or the union to talk about options,” said O’Leary.
O’Leary said that financial problems have existed at the United Church facility for many years, but little or no action was taken until the Centre received a damning report from an external consultant.
“The union is concerned that management at the Centre reacted too quickly to grasp at a solution that views unionized jobs as the problem. We have tried to address contracting out issues at the bargaining table, but have had little success so far,” said O’Leary.
O’Leary said that particularly given the values on which the United Church centre is based, employees have been devastated by the approach the Centre’s management has taken. “Naramata employees have been members of CUPE Local 608 for the past 20 years and they have always considered themselves to be loyal partners of the Centre. They don’t want to take job action, but they feel they have few options. “
CUPE 608 members provide a wide range of services to keep the guest accommodation facility running year-round. Bargaining began in early April and the union took a strong strike vote on April 23. The union plans to begin job action with an overtime ban.