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Unions optimistic of settlement in community social services talks

The four unions representing striking community social services workers around the province are optimistic that a settlement can be reached by the end of next week.

"Yesterday, the employers' bargaining agent, the Community Social Services Employers' Association, tabled a framework for negotiations, sending a signal that a settlement is possible," said Cliff Andstein, chief negotiator for the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU).

"The unions have agreed to bargain all weekend and into next week in an effort to reach a fair settlement."

The unions said the government's appointment of mediator/facilitator Don Munroe to assist with talks is a further sign that the government is finally acknowledging the importance of resolving the dispute.

Marilynn Rust of the Hospital Employees' Union (HEU) said the unions have agreed not to escalate job action beyond those workers already on strike or where strike notice had been served. "We're committed to getting a settlement that is fair and acceptable to our members," Rust said.

Community social services workers belonging to four unions - BCGEU, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Hospital Employees' Union, Health Sciences Association - have been involved in escalating job action around the province since March 8, 1999. The key issue in the dispute is wage and benefit discrimination.

Community social services workers work in a variety of community agencies providing support for community living, family and children's services, services to women, and child care. Most of the 10,000 workers in this sector have been without a contract since March 1998.

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For more information contact:
Rebecca Maurer, Director of Communications
(604) 439-0994 

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