Another strike vote taken in Penticton

Unionized staff at Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen reject latest contract offer, vote 88 per cent in favour of strike

More labour strife could be on the way in Penticton, after unionized staff members at the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen rejected their employer’s latest contract offer and voted in favour of a strike.

The 55 workers, including bylaw officers and planners, this week voted 88 per cent in favour of going out, although a 72-hour strike notice has not been issued, according to a B.C. Government and Services Emplyoees’ Union press release.

Negotiator Debra Critchley says in the release that a group of clerical workers turned down a four-year deal that froze wages over the life of it, and that the RDOS rejected other proposals for improvements to benefits, vacation and sick pay.

Board chair Dan Ashton was unable to provide specifics on what the RDOS offered, but said it was “very fair and reasonable considering what has transpired elsewhere.”

Ashton added that the union asked for a 6.2 per cent raise in 2012 and a 3.18 per cent raise in 2013, which he said is unacceptable for taxpayers in the current climate of fiscal restraint.

Further, he disagreed with a union statement that RDOS directors had given themselves a raise.

Mediation is scheduled to begin in mid-June, and Ashton is optimistic a deal will be reached.

More information from the RDOS is expected Monday.