VICTORIA – CUPE college support workers are launching three days of job actions tomorrow aimed at getting the government to sign a collective agreement. The actions by CUPE’s 3,000 college workers will range from shutting down specific departments to demonstrations outside local MLA’s offices.
CUPE BC’s Colleges Coordinator Ian McLean says the actions are designed to not impact students directly. “We value our students and we encourage them to contact their MLAs to join us in demanding fairness for colleges equal to the treatment given universities in BC.” Actions are planned at Vancouver Island University, College of New Caledonia, Camosun, College of the Rockies, North Island College and Vancouver Community College.
CUPE Local 2773 Pam Catsirelis at the College of the Rockies says her “membership has been extremely frustrated that the BC Liberals appear unwilling to recognize that college support staff provide the same valuable services that university support staff provide.” The government recently settled with virtually all of BC’s CUPE university support staff with a four-year, no-concessions deal for 0-0-2-2%.
“We’re sending a clear message to the government that we are committed to a fair wage increase for our members,” said Lily Bachand, CUPE 4951 president at the College of New Caledonia. “We know the impact of a full-scale walkout on our students and that’s why we are targeting selected departments.”
CUPE Local 1858 president Deborah Hopper at VIU says “our two-day strike action last week got the government to come back to the table (this Friday) and while we still don’t have an agreement, we believe that these actions are necessary until we have a deal.”
Camosun and North Island College workers plan to take their complaints to the source with Friday rallies at MLA’s offices. In Victoria, CUPE Local 2081 will rally for an hour at Ida Chong’s office starting at 11:30am (3930 Shelbourne). In Courtenay, Don McRae’s office (437 Fifth St) will picketed over the lunch hour. CUPE 3479 president Michelle Waite explains that “the government, including Education Minister Don McCrae, must ensure college support staff bargaining is a priority. Our institutions and our students are an integral part of BC’s future.”
“The government’s Jobs Plan relies on highly skilled trades people trained at our colleges. We need a fair and equitable wage increase in line with the settlements reached at universities to ensure we can continue to deliver quality post secondary education and trades training,” says CUPE 2081 chief steward Louise Oetting. CUPE 4627 chief steward Jo Hansen at VCC agrees. “Our college is not the enemy; they are the victims of a vindictive government which does not value the work of colleges. The government speaks of job creation while cutting educational institutes that create job ready citizens!”