Metro Vancouver workers could strike Tuesday

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More than 600 unionized workers at Metro Vancouver could go on strike as early as Tuesday afternoon, according to the union representing them.

In a news release on Saturday, the Greater Vancouver Regional District Employee’s Union said it served Metro Vancouver with a 72-hour strike notice on Sept. 29. It was the second such notice, after an earlier notice filed on Sept. 21 that expired during negotiations over essential services.

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“We are asking for fair compensation for some undervalued classifications and extended health care plan improvements comparable to other regional work groups,” the union stated.

The two sides have been in negotiations for 18 months. The collective agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2021.

Despite mediation by the Labour Relations Board, talks broke off on Aug. 15 of this year and the union said 97.2 per cent of its members voted in favour of striking.

The union represents the more than 600 employees working in such services as water treatment and distribution, air quality monitoring, regional parks, affordable housing and watershed management.

Metro Vancouver spokesperson Don Bradley said in a statement that the regional district was offering an 11.5 per cent pay increase over three years and a one-time lump sum payment of $2,350, plus “other improvements to allowances and benefits.”

“We are seeking a series of cost and procedural efficiencies that we believe benefit both the employer and employees, while maintaining value for taxpayers,” Bradley wrote.

The union accused Metro Vancouver of trying to weaken the collective agreement and said the district was “demanding concessions to hours of work, short-term illness and injury health plan, and that the union forgo its fair-wage settlement protection.”

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