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BCGEU president visits striking CRD workers in Cariboo

Paul Finch was elected BCGEU president June 1st
Paul Finch, the new president of BCGEU standing in front of the Quesnel library where employees have been on strike for over a month.

BC General Employee's Union's (BCGEU) new president Paul Finch visited the picket lines in Quesnel and Williams Lake this week to show support to the striking Cariboo Regional District workers.

BCGEU CRD workers have been on strike for five weeks now.

"One of the first things I've done here is, I wanted to come up and meet with members on strike, here on the picket line to support them," Finch told the Quesnel Observer Tuesday.

The services affected by the CRD include libraries, invasive plant removal and bylaw complaints among others.

"We had no expectation on the length of the strike going into it. So really, we're out here until we get a fair deal," Finch said. "We've got a very healthy strike fund right now and one of the advantages of being a union with a large strike fund is that you know we can see this through."

The union represents over 100 employees across the region including Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.

Finch said the union is waiting on the employer to return to the bargaining table.

"The employer needs to come back to the table with an offer and they have so far refused to do that," Finch said. "We would like to see an end to it but that all depends on the employer at this point,"

The CRD's Chief Administrative Officer Murray Daly said they're waiting for the union to return to the table.

"We've asked them to return, we've put it out to them that we're more than happy to sit at the bargaining table again and hammer out an agreement that's fair for the staff and fair for the taxpayer," Daly told the Observer.

Daly said the union is asking for wages to be tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which the CRD believes is unreasonable.

"We will agree to a fair wage number, we will not agree to an unknown and that's what CPI virtually is moving forward," Daly said. He added that as a taxpayer funded organization, the CRD wants to ensure the deal is fair to its employees but also the taxpayer.

In May the CRD put out a release saying the union rejected a three-year, 11 per cent wage increase. The Union responded to that same offer by saying the region relies on its employees and the CRD can't afford to lose those workers.

About the Author: Austin Kelly

Born and raised in Surrey, I'm excited to have the opportunity to start my journalism career in Quesnel.
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