Kitimat Strike Passes Three Month Mark
After mediation efforts failed to yield an agreement earlier this month the union (Unifor Local 2300) rejected an offer of binding arbitration this week.
In a letter to Kitimat residents Mayor Phil Germuth extended his thanks “for their patience during this difficult time” and acknowledged that businesses and residents have been “very affected by loss of services.”
He noted the District employs only 23 exempt staff, including just three employees with the Fire Department as well as the office manager at the RCMP detachment adding “those four are looking after essential services at those locations.”
“17 managers are doing essential duties (water, sewer,cemetery,etc.); doing their best to keep the community clean, mow grass, collect taxes, pay bills and many other duties; while also doing their jobs.”
Over 120 Unifor members walked off the job February 28, arguing for higher wages and better workplace conditions (the District offered a 2.5% wage increase per year in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and argue their municipal employees are among the best paid in B.C.).
And although Unifor rejected binding arbitration, the union still feels the strike could end soon.
“As long as the District’s bargaining ream doesn’t run us in circles, I think we’re close to a deal,” said Unifor’s Scott Doherty. “But one thing is for sure: we’re not going backwards. No deal is possible if the District thinks that it can take items off the table that have already been agreed to.”
Unifor argues the public is on their side, noting more than 2,000 Kitimat residents have signed a petition supporting the union.