BURNABY, BC, Sept. 26, 2014 /CNW/ - B.C.'s Native Courtworkers issued 72 hour strike notice to their employer to call attention to the B.C. government's discriminatory wage policies, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) said today.
Native Courtworkers, who help aboriginal clients navigate the criminal court system, receive significantly less pay and benefits than workers performing similar jobs in the public service, says the union.
"This dispute is fundamentally about a government wage policy that treats workers differently," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "These workers are paid artificially low wages compared to their peers. It's time for the government to fix this injustice."
At the heart of the workers' dispute is the failure of the B.C. government to bring these workers into the Community Social Services Employers' Association (CSSEA) Aboriginal bargaining unit when it was created in 2003. Had it done so, the workers would be paid much more.
The starting wage for a Native Courtworker is only $31,800 a year, compared to $45,100 for a comparable classification under the Aboriginal Services agreement. Also, Native Courtworkers only receive partial benefits compared to the Aboriginal Services agreement.
Workers in this bargaining unit also haven't had a wage increase in five years, and have only seen a 9 per cent pay increase since 2002. Meanwhile, the inflation rate rose 18 per cent in that time, which has eroded their purchasing power.
"Our members have been patient, waiting for the B.C. government to do the right thing and treat them like other public employees," says Smith. "But now they are saying enough is enough and are reluctantly taking job action to pressure the government to fix this discriminatory practice."
The BCGEU represents 36 members employed by the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of British Columbia, who provide court services and counselling to Aboriginal citizens in 20 communities across British Columbia.
SOURCE: B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union
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For more information, contact Chris Bradshaw at 604-369-8411 or 604-291-9611