Fernie Free Press

CUPE workers strike at COTR

College support workers picketed outside the Fernie College of the Rockies campus on Tuesday morning.  - N. Liebermann
College support workers picketed outside the Fernie College of the Rockies campus on Tuesday morning.
— image credit: N. Liebermann

College of the Rockies campuses were closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and all classes were cancelled. CUPE support workers were outside picketing at the Fernie College of the Rockies campus, the main campus in Cranbrook, as well as the Creston and Golden campuses.

The job action comes after failed last minute efforts by CUPE Local 2773 to get the provincial government to sign off on collective agreements with B.C.'s 3,000 CUPE college support workers.

CUPE led a number of B.C. colleges in the province wide labour action that began Tuesday. College of the Rockies’ Invermere, Kimberley, and Gold Creek campuses were also closed. Other colleges taking part in the strike were North Island College, Vancouver Island University, Camosun College, College of New Caledonia, and both Vancouver Community College campuses.

B.C. college support workers have been without a contract since 2010. They are asking for a no-concessions four year deal, with two per cent wage increases in the last two years, to stay in line with other recent public sector settlements in B.C.

The issue at hand is a blockage in negotiations in the province’s Public Sector Employers’ Council and the ministry of advanced education. “If it wasn't for government interference in collective bargaining, we would be heading to work this morning with a reasonable contract in our pocket,” commented Ian McLean, CUPE's B.C. Colleges Coordinator. “Instead, we are heading for the picket line.”

The unionized workers serve in a number of support service departments at College of the Rockies, including facilities, IT, finance, admissions, registration, financial aid, library, bookstore, and financial aid.

Faculty were not expected to cross picket lines, however management staff were available at the closed College of the Rockies’ campuses to answer questions and deal with student issues during strike action. All campuses are expected to reopen today.

For the most recent labour action updates go the Job Action Website at http://www.cotr.bc.ca/jobaction.

 

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