Nanaimo area women’s services workers go on strike

Faced with no movement in negotiations around an unworkable shift schedule, employees of the Island Crisis Care Society (ICCS) have gone on strike starting Tuesday, February 8. The employees, members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU), authorized the strike through a vote in November.

ICCS operates five locations in the Nanaimo area. Workers are currently on strike at the Samaritan House location at 355 Nichol St, Nanaimo.

“Support workers at ICCS are proud to provide vital services to vulnerable members of our community,” said BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch. “Given the high-risk nature of the work, it’s irresponsible for the agency to be scheduling multiple eight-hour shifts in a 24-hour period.”

ICCS provides emergency and transitional housing services to women dealing with mental health and addictions issues. However, a recently implemented shift schedule has hindered their ability to provide the best possible support to the individuals serviced by the agency.

Employees have consistently flagged the new shift arrangements as problematic, saying that they exacerbate burnout in an industry plagued by poor staff recruitment and retention.

“Cuts to community based social services have left the caring professionals in our field to do more with less,” says Andrea Duncan, BCGEU Vice President of Community Social Services. “Staff burnout is a major concern, and shift patterns like these, that push staff to their limits, are part of the problem."

ICCS has refused to discuss changes during ongoing negotiations to replace the union collective agreement that expired in March 2015.

The BCGEU represents thousands of community social service workers throughout the province.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Aaron Donovan, Communications – 604-306-9122,