By Brent Richter, North Shore News August 2, 2013
More than 90 days since contract negotiations failed and they were locked out of work, North Shore Winter Club maintenance workers picket outside the club.
NORTH Shore Winter Club maintenance employees have now been locked out of their workplace for more than 90 days and there’s no end in sight for the labour dispute.
"(Management) flatly refused to return to the bargaining table so there’s not any progress at this point so we’re going to continue to escalate our activity at the club here," said John Strohmaier, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 398 representative.
That means soliciting the help of the B.C. Federation of Labour and other groups to support the locked out workers, including Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players’ Association.
"He’s urging the NHL players and others not to use this facility until the labour dispute is over," Strohmaier said.
The union is also "compiling evidence" for another complaint to the Labour Relations Board, which has already once warned club management not to use replacement workers.
In the meantime the workers are getting by on strike pay and club members are getting annoyed with the dispute, Strohmaier said.
"I think they’re probably of the view that this isn’t what the signed up for when they got a membership," Strohmaier said.
At issue in the lockout are scheduling and unspecified changes to employee benefits, but Strohmaier has other suspicions.
"I think the underlying issue is that the general manager seems to be of the view that he can break the union. I think that’s more what it’s about than a collective agreement because there’s no big money issues here that are standing in the way of a resolution," Strohmaier said.
"There’s 600,000 CUPE members in this country and we’ll go on for as long as it takes. I can assure you we’ll be here one day longer than the general manager."
Winter Club general manager David Long did not respond to a request for comment.
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