Opening salvos have been fired publicly in contract negotiations between the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and its workers.
Fifty-five workers, including bylaw officers, clerks and planners, last week rejected an offer from their employer and instead voted 88 per cent in favour of a strike.
A 72-hour strike notice has not been issued and the two sides are scheduled to go to mediation in mid-June.
Clerical staff apparently rejected a four-year deal with no wage increases, according to a press release from the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union.
“Workers sent a clear message to the employer that freezing wages for clerical positions, a 100 per cent female department, is unacceptable,” negotiator Debra Critchley said in the release.
“We’re disappointed the employer couldn’t find any money for a modest wage increase for them, especially after regional district directors gave themselves a raise.”
RDOS board chair Dan Ashton took issue with that claim, saying in his press release that directors have received “no increased compensation since 2006.”
The RDOS said workers asked for raises of 6.2 per cent and 3.18 per cent, respectively, in 2012 and 2013, after receiving wage hikes totalling 5.5 per cent over the past three years.
While the board praised its employees, “we’re disappointed that they believe a 6.2 per cent increase in 2012 is something the citizens of the RDOS would support,” Ashton said.
“We hope an agreement can be reached amicably and that we can continue working together to provide excellent services to our citizens.”