Gwaii Haanas open as strike continues

  • Aug. 18, 2004 10:00 a.m.

If you want to visit Gwaii Haanas, it’s open, and the mandatory orientation sessions are available, but there was no end in sight to the strike by Parks Canada employees as wrote this story Tuesday afternoon.

Despite the strike, orientation is available daily at the visitor info centres in both Sandspit and Queen Charlotte. (Sandspit at 3 pm, except Mondays and Fridays 3:30 pm, Queen Charlotte at 7:30 pm).
For up to date information about visiting Gwaii Haanas, we strongly advise you to contact Parks Canada at 1-888-773-8888 or check the website www.pc.gc.ca.

The job action started Friday, as members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) were in a legal strike position. Parks employees had been working without a contract since last August.
On the islands, job action began with cancellation of the morning Gwaii Haanas orientation and with two employees distributing information around Queen Charlotte. Monday, employees picketed the two visitor information centres Queen Charlotte and Sandspit), the government dock and Parks Canada offices in Queen Charlotte.

On Tuesday, the union changed its strategy to rotating regional strikes, which included workers here, who handed out pamphlets to those boarding the Queen of Prince Rupert at Skidegate Landing. Apparently, they did not picket Gwaii Haanas sites. That day, only about 10-percent of Parks employees in BC were pulled off-most of them from toll booths, said Joanna Schultz of the Public Service Alliance of Canada in Vancouver. The situation changes daily, but since the employer isn’t willing to go back to the negotiating table the union doesn’t expect a quick resolution, according to Ms Schulz.
The union is assessing daily its strategy to decide what to do, but for now no settlement seems likely as Parks Canada and the union are not negotiating. If strike action doesn’t produce some change, the union will likely begin lobbying parliament to get the employer back to the table, said Ms Schultz.

The union realizes this is the end of summer and people want to enjoy their holidays. In order to inconvenience the employer but not visitors to Canada’s parks and historic sites, the union is targeting places where money is collected, and picketing in a way to raise awareness rather than interfering with the public, said Ms Schultz.

The dispute is largely over wages with the employer offering 9-percent and the union looking for a wage increase of close to 15-percent. The union also wants inequities in the system addressed, so that workers doing the same job are paid the same regardless of what region they work in.