KAMLOOPS—CUPE support workers at Thompson Rivers have reached a tentative collective agreement with the university. The bargaining committee for the 700 members of CUPE Local 4879 reports that the no-concessions deal includes two percent wage increases in each of the final two years. The first two years have no wage hikes, in keeping with the provincial government’s Net Zero Mandate for public sector workers in 2010 and 2011. The agreement will run until April 1, 2014.
CUPE workers at TRU launched job action three weeks ago to pressure the university to get back to the bargaining table with serious proposals and a mandate to sign an agreement.
CUPE 4879 president Lois Rugg says the negotiations were frustrated by interference by the provincial government in the collective bargaining process. “The smallest items that included any monetary element had to be sent to the government for approval,” explains Rugg, “and then we would have to sit and wait and wait and wait for a reply from them.”
“Even things such as granting bereavement leave for the death of a grandchild was denied because it was considered a monetary item by PSEC (the government’s Public Sector Employers’ Council).” Rugg said the entire process was bogged down by red tape, from government delays approving the university ‘savings plan’ to requiring government approval of every proposal and change in the contract.
“We will be back in bargaining as early as next year for the next contract,” says Rugg, “and we will be looking for whoever is in power to respect our collective bargaining process.”