NARAMATA – The BC Labour Relations Board has dismissed the latest complaints filed by the United Church’s Naramata Centre against its striking employees. In its ruling released on Friday, the LRB dismissed claims by Centre management that its unionized staff is on an illegal strike or that the Canadian Union of Public Employees members had bargained in bad faith.
The 34 members of CUPE Local 608 who work at the Centre have been on strike for more than three months. In late May, the LRB found the Centre guilty of breaching the BC Labour Code by using scabs (replacement workers) to do the work of striking employees. The main issue in the dispute is the United Church-owned Centre’s attempts to contract out local jobs in an effort to stem self-inflicted financial woes. CUPE has represented the staff at the Naramata Centre since 1994. This is the first time there has ever been a strike.
CUPE Local 608 President Brianne Hillson says that while the LRB ruling is yet another vindication for the workers, it also points to the growing frustration the workers feel. “The church has been unwilling to focus on settling a fair and reasonable collective agreement,” she explains, adding that “instead, we have spent a lot of unnecessary time and resources on unfounded allegations - time that would have been better spent on meaningful negotiations.”
CUPE BC President Mark Hancock said he hopes “that the United Church will see these latest LRB rulings as a wake-up call to move on from confrontation to collaboration with its Naramata employees.”