Naramata community centre still open despite strike

Picket lines went up Thursday at a community centre in Naramata as workers protested an attempt to contract out some of their jobs.

Thirty members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees went on strike after rejecting an offer late Wednesday from management of the Centre at Naramata, which is aligned with the United Church of Canada.

“We’re without a contract because the employer has chosen to address its budget deficiencies … by getting rid of some its employees and bringing in a contractor,” said CUPE national representative Tom O’Leary.

He said the last offer to employees was a two-year deal that “basically would have had the members agreeing to get rid of some of their jobs now and the rest in two years.”

Jim Simpson, the Centre’s director of development and strategic partnerships, confirmed management is looking to contract out six positions in food service and grounds maintenance to help shore up the society’s finances.

“The restructuring steps we’re trying to take are key to ensuring the Centre survives,” he said.

“We were almost having to close it at the end of November.”

A consultant hired last year to help put the Centre on track proposed contracting out the positions as one of four options for staunching the flow of red ink. Others options include closing the facility temporarily.

Simpson said there are no talks scheduled with CUPE and the site remains open with management working in place of unionized employees.

“Currently it’s business as usual and events are going ahead as planned,” he said, adding a group of 75 guests was at the facility Thursday with another large group expected for the weekend.

O’Leary said “quite a few” people who were on their way into the Centre on Thursday turned around after seeing the picket line.

“We’re not allowed to prevent people from entering, but we’re educating and informing them that this is a struck business,” he said.


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