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Strike action could close Cowichan's VIU campus Tuesday

Users of Cowichan
Users of Cowichan's new Vancouver Island University campus are hopeful it won't be behind pickets barely a year into its mandate.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

VIU's Cowichan campus could be closed Tuesday during strike action by its unionized support workers.

Some 30 local members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees would join staffers at B.C.'s colleges readying for strike action, yesterday's CUPE release says.

Organizers say they are leaving the door open for Victoria to "stop stalling and settle with the 3,000 CUPE support workers who have been without a contract for 2 1/2 years."

CUPE locals have taken strike votes and are serving 72-hour strike notices this week.

Cowichan's Local 1838 representing VIU voted an 86% strike mandate recently.

That local represents about 30 Cowichan campus workers among 300 island employees, including food services workers, clerical staff, facilities workers and library staff at VIU's five campuses.

Camosun College, College of New Caledonia, College of the Rockies, and North Island College all expected to all be in a legal position to strike by Monday too.

Vancouver Community College workers have been carrying out job actions for more than two weeks. They plan another all-campus walkout Monday, the release says.

At issue is the B.C. government's refusal to sign-off on new collective agreements, CUPE states of its former contract that expired in 2010.

All CUPE college locals, including Cowichan's, report good relationships with their employer — the stumbling block being the provincial Public Sector Employers' Council, and Ministry of Advanced Education, says CUPE.

The union's B.C. colleges coordinator, Ian McLean, regretted mediated talks failed.

"We have met and worked with those employers over the past two years, and proposed settlements in line with all the other recent public-sector contracts.

"To date all of these efforts have failed because we are told by our employers that they don't have a mandate to bargain from the government."

Other recent public-sector wage settlements have been for four-year, no-concessions deals with 0-0-2-2% wage increases.

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