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Library job action hits Comox branch

BCGEU strategy moves from single-branch to multiple sites
Job action! Comox was one of the picket locations on March 18 for library workers. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Comox’s library branch was one of the sites for escalating job action Friday.

Members of the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) set up a picket in front of the branch on Beaufort Avenue as part of an effort to get the VIRL board to issue a new wage mandate.

“We’ve said from the beginning — librarians don’t want to be on picket lines in front of their libraries, they want to get back into their libraries and back to work,” BCGEU president Stephanie Smith said in a news release. “They’ve made every effort from day one of this job action to find a balance between pressuring their employer to get back to the table while minimizing the impact on their communities and their CUPE colleagues. The bottom line is, our members deserve a fair contract, and the VIRL board has the power to end this job action by issuing a new wage mandate to get that contract settled.”

The librarians’ job action started March 9 as rotating pickets targeting single branches. This escalated to multiple branches from Sooke to Port Hardy Friday morning. Along with Comox, other sites included Qualicum Beach and South Cowichan.

VIRL made its latest bargaining proposal March 1, which it says includes total compensation ahead of the sector average and beyond the levels BCGEU sought during the last round of bargaining.

“Unlike many other primarily urban library systems, 80 per cent of the communities VIRL serves are rural coastal communities, grappling with post-pandemic economic recovery. An agreement must be sustainable for all the communities we serve,” a VIRL news release said.

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