QUALICUM BEACH – The month-long lockout of Qualicum Beach municipal workers is over. The town of Qualicum Beach has now agreed to accept a mediator’s recommendations for a new contract with its unionized workers. CUPE members ratified the deal last week.
The 4½-year agreement contains the modest two-per-cent annual wage increase sought by the union since their last contract expired in 2013. The increase is in line with recent settlements in neighbouring communities.
The 65 members of CUPE Local 401 will return to work tomorrow. CUPE 401 president Blaine Gurrie said “now our members can get back to what we do best - helping to keep Qualicum Beach the great community it is.”
The approval ends the first labour dispute in Qualicum Beach’s history – one the union says was “totally unnecessary.” The challenge now, said Gurrie, will be to try to rebuild the longstanding respectful relationship the town and its workforce had before the lockout.
In reaching the new collective agreement, the town accepted that its last-minute demand for an exempted position was not part of the contract negotiations. Both sides now agree that issue will be dealt with through the BC Labour Relations Board if the employer decides to proceed.
The settlement came late last night, just hours before a Labour Relations Board hearing was set to begin on a bad faith bargaining complaint against the town.