This is the first of what will be a weekly strike bulletin in the leadup to and throughout the upcoming job action at BCFMA.
Current Strike Mandate Will Be Actioned
As you are aware, the current strike mandate expires at the end of this month (September 2020). The Strike Coordinating Committee (SCC) is planning for the strike mandate to be actioned before it expires. Once a strike action has taken place the mandate does not have to be renewed, i.e. so long as some strike action is taken this month, the strike mandate will not expire.
The SCC appreciates the input it has received from you on potential strike plans and welcomes additional input via Picket Captains that will help us safely meet our strategic objectives. We're not detailing potential strike plans here to avoid broadcasting them to the Employer. For now, we'll just say we're looking at a variety of approaches to apply pressure on the employer.
The union and employer are currently engaged on the matter of essential services. The Labour Relations Code allows the Labour Relations Board to "designate as essential services those facilities, productions and services that the board considers necessary or essential to prevent immediate and serious danger to the health, safety or welfare of the residents of British Columbia." As the outcome of this process will affect strike plans, determining essential service levels, if any, is a current top priority.
Stewards and alternate stewards have all agreed to serve as picket captains:
- Burnaby: Brenda McIntyre, Christine Stewart
- Kamloops: Ty Poss
- Victoria: Steve Kitcher, Lauren Gaudon
Duties of picket captains include working with the SCC and BCGEU Area Office to:
- ensure a method of rapid communication from the picket captains to members on strike is in place
- ensure picket signs and other logistics and supplies are in place
- schedule and track members' strike shifts
At this point, Picket Captains don't have additional information for members beyond what has been provided in bulletins. However, they can receive your questions, comments and concerns to bring to the attention of the SCC via the Staff Representative for your area.
Benefit Continuation During Strike
The Labour Relations Code requires an employer to continue providing extended health and welfare benefits during a strike when a union pays the premiums. BCGEU will pay the premiums for extended health and welfare benefits to continue during the strike.
Eligibility for specific benefits while on strike depends on the wording of the plan policies. The carrier has advised us, via the employer, of the following regarding short-term disability (STD) coverage:
- An employee already on short-term disability (STD) at the time a work stoppage begins would continue to receive STD benefits
- An employee who becomes disabled during a work stoppage would not receive STD benefits during the work stoppage; instead they would be eligible for STD upon return to work (or at the end of the elimination period, if later) assuming they are still disabled and otherwise eligible
In addition to structuring strike activities to follow pandemic health and safety guidelines, the SCC is looking at related issues including protocols for members who experience flu-like symptoms or return from international travel, or had close contact with a person in either of those circumstances.
As this will be the first BCGEU strike during the pandemic, the SCC is seeking guidance from the Provincial Executive on picket pay for members who must self-isolate. The SCC is also developing a process for members who are medically unable to picket (due to the pandemic or otherwise) to request alternate duties. The usual practice is that a member who cannot picket or perform alternate strike duties as assigned does not receive picket pay, however the SCC recognizes these are not usual times.
Prescheduled Annual Vacation, Etc.
We have received questions from some of you regarding prescheduled annual vacation and other leaves during a strike. We are working on answers to those questions and will include them in a later bulletin.
Strike Coordinating Committee Membership
As you know, the bargaining committee chair is automatically a member of the SCC. The SCC for BCFMA will be expanded to include both the chair and members of the bargaining committee once the bargaining committee election is complete. This is intended to provide members a greater role in strike planning and to facilitate better communication between the SCC and the bargaining unit.
You can expect the next strike bulletin when there's something new to report and no later than sometime next week. Thank you for your ongoing patience and support.
Staff Representative - Negotiations
Do you like this post?