WHITE ROCK â€” A full-scale strike by White Rock CUPE workers could be in the near future after three days of rotating job action.
While the first day of action on May 2 affected city hall workers, the second day, May 8, focused on the cityâ€™s public works yard, effectively shutting down garbage collection and roadwork for the day.
The morning of day two, city manager Dan Bottrill said the most significant effect of having the 30 or so workers on strike and shutting down the public works yard was the lack of waste pickup.
According to Bottrill, about a fifth of the cityâ€™s residents were likely affected by Thursday’s job action.
CUPE workers also planned to be off the job at the public works yard Friday, for day three of job action.
When asked what was next for the workers, White Rock CUPE president Mike Guraliuk said there were no plans for any more rotating strikes at this time, but hinted that a full-scale strike would likely be the next step.
â€œIt could be in the very near future,â€ he said. â€œIf the city doesnâ€™t call us back to the table, itâ€™s closer than they realize.
â€œWeâ€™d sooner get back to the bargaining table, but if it takes an all-out strike, then weâ€™re willing to do that.â€
CUPE National Representative Rob Limongelli, who is also the negotiator for White Rock workers, said he was disappointed by the cityâ€™s lack of response to the job action.
â€œUnless they come to the bargaining table and are ready to talk, weâ€™re not going to be coming back,â€ he said. â€œObviously the mayor has an agenda and doesnâ€™t think our employees are valued for their work. So weâ€™re withdrawing our services to show how serious we are.â€
Additionally, Limongelli said White Rockâ€™s mayor and council needs to show some leadership in the matter, especially with an election coming up later this year.
â€œThe mayor is going to be running for office in a few months and asking for our vote,â€ he said. â€œWell, weâ€™ll remember Wayneâ€™s strike and weâ€™ll be at every meeting heâ€™s at when heâ€™s trying to get elected.
â€œNo councillor has said anything to us either, theyâ€™re silent so we assume they support the mayor, but come November, when theyâ€™re all running again for re-election, weâ€™ll be reminding the city about this.â€
As for strides made by either side in resuming bargaining, Limongelli maintains that CUPE is always willing to get back to the table to find a settlement.
â€œIf the people on the bargaining committee canâ€™t do that, then the city needs to find new people on the committee,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, Bottrill reiterated that it was the union that left the table and began the job action.
â€œAlthough theyâ€™ve indicated to the media that they wish to get back to the table, theyâ€™ve not proposed any further dates to us,â€ he said.
Instead Bottrill said the city has taken the lead on trying to get back to the table by getting in touch with the labour relations board, which the city is currently waiting to hear back from.
â€œSo we donâ€™t mind taking a lead role in trying to get the parties meeting together even though it was the union that left the table,â€ said Bottrill. â€œWeâ€™re obviously looking to ensure that our mediator is available because I think at this point, we need help between the two parties. I still feel that thatâ€™s the case and having a mediator there to help the two parties come together and reach a settlement that meets both partiesâ€™ needs is going to be crucial.â€
Finally, asked if the city was ready for a full-scale strike, Bottrill simply said, â€œThe city is prepared for whateverâ€™s going to happen, so yes.â€