Island Crisis Care Society workers have put a Nanaimo homeless shelter behind picket lines in a dispute over scheduling with their employer.
Samaritan House, an emergency women’s shelter, was the first crisis care society operation to fall behind the pickets Tuesday morning after the B.C. Government Employees Union members issued a strike notice late Friday.
About 40 union members work for the crisis care society at five locations in Nanaimo and potentially any of of those locations could be picketed if the labour dispute continues, according to the union.
“The main issue in that one isn’t wages, its scheduling,” said Paul Finch, provincial treasurer for the B.C.GEU.
He said staff used to work 12-hour shifts for three days, followed by four days off, but new scheduling practices can force employees to work two eight-hour shifts in one 24-hour period.
“We think that this is very disruptive to their lives,” Finch said. “This is very high risk work and it’s just not acceptable that the employer is pushing this scheduling pattern.”
Terry Honcharuk, a negotiator with the community social services employer’s association, which negotiates on behalf of and provides labour relations advice to Island Crisis Care Society, said scheduling was the main issue, among others he didn’t want to get into.
“They want to implement a different schedule which isn’t feasible for the employer,” Honcharuk said. “There are still other outstanding monetary issues, which are still on the table, but the scheduling issue is one of the primary ones.”
“There’s absolutely no reason why they can’t reach this accommodation with their employees,” Finch said. “It makes perfect sense to schedule along this route.”