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Vancouver Island University students back to class for the time being as province asks CUPE to ‘stretch’
Get back to the bargaining table.
That was Wednesday’s message from provincial negotiators to the Canadian Union of Public Employees whose members staged strike action Tuesday and Wednesday at VIU’s Cowichan campus, and at other island facilities.
B.C.’s Post-Secondary Employers’ Association boss, Anita Bleick, said PSEA’s ready to bargain with a “reasonable offer.” She urged CUPE to “stretch” its demand about wages and more, while Cowichan’s MLA advised both sides their fruitless talks have dragged on long enough.
“Obviously, you want to discourage any stakeholders from negotiating through the media,” Bill Routley said.
“I recommend the employer and union to get into a room and negotiate. Sit down and bargain in good faith and get the job done.”
VIU student Ryan Knowles backed Routley’s advice, supporting wage hikes for CUPE’s inside support workers.
“For the job they’re doing, they need the money to make their lives easier,” he said of CUPE’s four-year 0-0-2-2% wage boost recently pitched to PSEA. “But if they don’t get what they want, they should get back to bargaining.”
CUPE, whose Local 1858 covers members at Cowichan’s VIU campus, has been without a contract since 2010.
Meanwhile, Routley assured students contract deals are democracy in action, and are eventually settled.
“These things get sorted out. In a democratic society some things happen that inconvenience us,” he said.
“I’d rather not see any inconvenience, but as long as people are playing by the rules of fair labour negotiation, that’s always what it takes: people trying to reasonably negotiate a settlement.
“Nine times out of 10, they do,” he said.