Strike at Island Crisis Care Society brings employer back to table

BCGEU members at the Island Crisis Care Society (ICCS) in Nanaimo are happy to announce that their three days of strike action last week were a great success. Thank you to the BCGEU members and members of other unions who joined the picket lines in solidarity.

Support workers at the Nanaimo-area women’s shelter have been in protracted collective bargaining and were frustrated by ICCS’s refusal to open the issue of a shift pattern that was causing severe exhaustion for front-line staff.

“Recruitment and retention of staff has always been difficult in the community social services field,” said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. “BCGEU members at ICCS are standing up for an issue that makes a real difference in preventing burnout.”

Members had identified the problematic shift pattern, where support workers in high-risk environments were left working two eight-hour shifts in a 24-hour period in the middle of the week, as their top priority in bargaining.

After three days of strike action at the Samaritan House worksite, union members and ICCS management met with a Labour Relations Board appointed mediator to discuss the issues around the strike. At that meeting, the parties agreed to a process to address the issue of shift scheduling.

Because of this agreement, picket lines have stood down until the end of the process. If members cannot agree to new schedules by March 10, the union will re-serve strike notice and commence picket action once again. If new schedules are agreed to, those schedules will form a part of the new collective agreement which will be put to ICCS members for ratification.