BC's Legal Service Society members serve 72 hour strike notice

VANCOUVER, July 23 /CNW/ - The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union announced today that it is serving 72 hour strike notice to the Legal Services Society of B.C. on behalf of their members, to take effect at noon on Monday, July 26, 2010.

Employment security emerged as the main issue that produced the impasse. After several rounds of budget cuts and downsizing, the employer moved to lay off 58 staff and contract out their work to local agents in 2010.

The bargaining committee made several proposals to strengthen language around contracting out as part of a new collective agreement, but the employer has refused to negotiate this issue. Society members strongly supported a strike vote after the impasse was reached.

"Employees have a right to expect that their work is valued by their employer, and that their jobs won't be handed over to private contractors at the first opportunity," said Walker. "The workers have done their part. Now it's the employer's turn, to show that it respects and values its employees by negotiating a contract that provides protection from contracting out."

Since 2002, the BC Liberal government has cut more than 40 per cent from legal aid funding, forcing the society to close 12 branch offices and 5 regional offices, and cut dozens of staff.

"Our members at the Legal Services Society have been hard-hit by government funding cuts and office closures since 2002," said BCGEU president Darryl Walker. "The last round of cuts has severely affected their ability to serve the public, and they've said enough is enough."

The Legal Services Society currently employs 110 BCGEU members, in two regional offices located in Vancouver and Terrace. For more information on the history of cuts to legal aid services, visit: www.bcgeu.ca/campaigns_and_issues/justice_for_all

SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union

For further information: For further information: Chris Bradshaw at 604-291-9611

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