Teachers remain out of the classrooms for the fifth school day on Monday, and more islanders may be affected by union job action Tuesday (Oct. 18), as members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees prepare to stop working.
CUPE is calling for job action across northern BC on Tuesday, following today’s day of protest on Vancouver Island. The union is supporting the BC Teachers’ Federation, which has been on strike since Oct. 7 to protest a government-imposed contract.
CUPE members on the islands work for the village of Masset, for the regional district at the landfill site, and at the Vancouver Island Regional Library, as well as in the schools.
The library branch in Queen Charlotte is closed today (Monday), because staff there belong to a union local from Nanaimo, which is taking part in Monday’s Vancouver Island protest. Circulation supervisor Su-san Brown said she was planning to join the teachers on their picket line for the day.
“I support the teachers,” she said, adding that she has never taken part in any job action before. “I just feel that this one is really important.”
Village of Masset administrator Trevor Jarvis said the village’s six unionized employees have indicated they will take part in tomorrow’s protest. The village office will remain open, he said.
In Prince Rupert, regional district administrator Janet Beil said she’s not yet sure how regional district operations will be affected. The islands landfill site may be closed, but garbage pickup will continue as usual because it’s done by contractors. Ms Beil added that she supports the teachers and that other union members should have the right to join the protest.
“I have to let my staff choose whatever they have to do,” she said.
Mike Muller, president of CUPE local 2020, represents 40 to 50 members who work in schools on the islands. They have already been off the job since last week in support of the teachers, and have joined them on the picket lines, he said.
Mark Karjaluoto, spokesperson for the Northern Health Authority, said no health facilities on the islands should be affected by the protest.
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