District of Tofino workers voted to strike on Thursday, the Canadian Union of Public Employees announced in a media release on Friday.
The announcement suggests the strike was called due to an impasse in negotiations with the CUPE 118 bargaining committee stating “workers deserve a fair deal with improvements to wages and working conditions.”
“It is disappointing the District of Tofino is not understanding employees’ concerns,” said CUPE 118 President Stacy Watton through the announcement. “We have no choice but to take a stand now to ensure the long-term sustainability of public services for the Tofino community.”
CUPE says Tofino’s district staffers have been working without a contract since June, 2020, and hopes a “reasonable agreement can be achieved” before services are disrupted.
“Tofino employees helped support residents though difficult times over the last two years caused by COVID-19 and its economic impacts,” Watton said. “Now that the world has emerged from the pandemic and Tofino looks forward to a prosperous future, District workers need a new contract that recognizes our CUPE 118 members’ commitment to the community they and their families are a part of.”
A mediation with the BC Labour Relations Board is scheduled for June 27 to resolve the dispute and if that mediation is unsuccessful the union is required to serve 72-hour strike notice prior to withdrawing services, according to the announcement.
“No one wants a strike at the beginning of Tofino’s peak tourist season, but our members can’t accept a contract that will make life more difficult for their families and harder for the District to recruit and retain staff,” Watton said. “Costs of living continues to increase, and Tofino is already an expensive place to live. All we are looking for is a new collective agreement that keeps up with rising prices and makes sure working conditions sustain good family supporting jobs.”
The announcement suggests Tofino’s CUPE 118 Bargaining Unit consists of 30 members who “provide vital public services to residents and visitors” adding their responsibilities include infrastructure maintenance, childcare, parks and recreation, water and utilities, bylaw enforcement and planning.
“We are optimistic that the District can respect our continued commitment to working with the Employer on some of these issues, outside of negotiations, and be able to reach an equitable agreement at this time. We would like to move forward with the District working together on a strong working relationship, a strong community engagement, and welcoming traveller’s from around the world to this great community,” Watton said.
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