CRD employees vote 93 per cent in favour of strike

Capital Regional District unionized employees have voted 93 per cent in favour of strike action.

The union has 1,200 workers in the Greater Victoria region who have been without a contract since December 31, 2016.

CUPE local 1978 president Rick Illi said the biggest challenge they're facing is getting a raise for auxiliary staff.

“That’s almost 500 CRD workers that are auxiliary staff. They’re quite precarious in nature. They don’t have any benefits, they don’t have a set schedules,” Illi said. “They do receive a percentage in lieu of benefits and we’re looking for a modest increase for that in lieu payment, and that just seems to be where we’re getting a lot of pushback.”

Before a strike could occur, the union would have to negotiate which employees are considered an essential service, and then serve 72 hours strike notice.

Ille said some examples of CRD staff who might be considered essential are those working on providing clean water, working in sewage, and 911 operators.

Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association is negotiating on behalf of the CRD for a contract, and board chair Kevin Murdoch said this is a normal part of contract negotiations.

"It's normal for a union to take a strike vote, frankly, because it gives them credibility that these issues are important," Murdoch said. "But it's also normal to go to remediation to try and resolve these things without having to go to strike."

The next steps will be to negotiate with a mediator to see if the two sides can come to an agreement.

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