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Community social service workers vote to accept new collective agreement

Union Bargaining Association members have voted in favour of ratifying a new collective agreement that covers 15,000 community social services workers.

The four-year deal includes general wage increases of 8.3 percent, additional wage parity increases, and inclusion in a public sector pension plan at the end of the agreement. Most workers will receive an additional 1.6 percent annually after the first year, when employers resume Medical Services Plan contributions. Full-time workers will receive a $4,200 signing bonus (pro-rated for part-timers and casuals).

"This is an important collective agreement to reach for community social services workers. These are the lowest paid workers in the public sector and they provide valuable services to the most vulnerable members of our society," says B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union president George Heyman. The BCGEU represents two-thirds of the unionized workers in the sector.

"We're proud that, at the end of this agreement, community social services workers will finally get a pension plan. This will improve stability in this sector by helping to attract and retain qualified workers," says Heyman.

"We're also pleased that we've strengthened the continuity of service agreement that applies when contracts change to new employers. This ensures more stable services for clients, and greater employment security for our members."

"This was one of the most difficult rounds of bargaining I've ever been involved in," Heyman notes. "It took a great deal of effort on the part of the Union Bargaining Association to get the government and employers to begin to deal with the inequities in this sector. These workers undoubtedly deserve more. Our unions will continue to work hard to address these issues over the next four years."

A feature of this collective agreement is the ability it gives unions to raise market wage issues that affect recruitment and retention. These are and will continue to be urgent concerns in the sector. Currently, community social services workers can earn $2-$15 more an hour in a comparable job in the health or school sectors.

Heyman emphasizes that, "We will be working hard to convince the government and employers that if they want to assure long term stability in this sector they are going to have to pay the going rates."

The Union Bargaining Association consists of 13 unions which represent community social services workers in B.C. Members in each subsector voted in favour of the new agreement, as follows: Community Living 79.3 percent; General Services 80.5 percent; Aboriginal Services 98 percent.

Members' work includes providing support to: people with physical, mental and developmental disabilities; children who witness and experience abuse; young offenders; women experiencing domestic violence; and people with addictions.

Summary of tentative agreement

Q & A on signing bonus

Full text of collective agreement changes

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