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December 3, 2012

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Battered Women’s Support Services local to join aboriginal social workers strike

VANCOUVER—Members of CUPE 1936 who work for Battered Women’s Support Services will be joining Aboriginal Service workers in solidarity tomorrow (December 4) for a strike action at the eastside office of Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society (VACFSS).

Aboriginal Service workers and social workers from VACFSS, who are members of the BCGEU, are taking job action on Tuesday to send a clear message to the B.C. government to stop putting vulnerable Aboriginal families last. The VACFSS office at 471 East Broadway (at St. George Street) in Vancouver will be picketed from 8:30am until 4:30 p.m. CUPE members from Battered Women’s Support Services, which provides services to aboriginals as well, will join the picket from roughly 10 a.m. until 2 pm. 

Since 2004, the B.C. Liberal government has cut $300 million in funding for programs that support vulnerable aboriginal families, recent immigrants, the developmentally disabled, at-risk youth, and children and infants in community-based programs across the province.

“Aboriginal service workers perform the same work as government social workers and support staff. The work is the same, but the employment conditions are not—aboriginal workers have inferior benefits compared to direct government social workers,” says CUPE’s community social services coordinator Cheryl Colborne.

Aboriginal services are government social services devolved to aboriginal agencies that support Aboriginal families across B.C.  They offer a wide variety of services, such as child protection, family preservation/reunification, foster care, guardianship, and more. Aboriginal service workers are counselors and social workers for families, addiction-related issues, stop the violence programs, but also program managers, settlement and integration workers, and more.

Contract negotiations in Aboriginal Services broke off on August 17 and have not resumed. Since October 16, rotating strike action in community services has impacted agencies around British Columbia, including in Vancouver, Kamloops, Prince George Victoria, Nelson, Vernon, Williams Lake, and many others.

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