Colleges, BCIT face strike action

VANCOUVER – Support staff could set up picket lines at three B.C. colleges and the B.C. Institute of Technology as early as Monday.The B.C. Government and Service Employees Union has served 72-hour strike notice at Kwantlen University College, Douglas College and the B.C. Institute of Technology in the Lower Mainland .It’s also served strike notice at Northern Lights University College which has eight campuses across northern B.C.BCGEU president George Heyman blames the looming job action on the Campbell’s government’s policy of freezing wages for three years.”These workers, as I said, have had absolutely nothing in five of the last seven years, and only 4.4 per cent in the other two,” he says.”That just simply isn’t acceptable. It’s unfair, it’s inequitable, and they need to make up some ground. They need to be able to support their families. They need some respect.”The BCGEU is asking for pay raise of seven per cent in a new four-year agreement plus improvements to benefits.

Heyman says the more than 1,500 workers are predominantly female, who he says are the backbone of the post-secondary education system.Their last collective agreement expired two-and-a-half years ago.