The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) and the Strathcona Gardens Commission know that health and recreation are important to our community and appreciate the service that employees at Strathcona Gardens provide. We would like to provide a community update on the current labour dispute at Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex.
As part of the ongoing labour dispute at Strathcona Gardens, SRD made an offer to the USW on December 13, two subsequent offers on January 17, 2022. On January 24, the USW responded by rejecting the latest offer and is requesting mediation to resolve the dispute. The SRD agrees with USW that mediation is the preferred way to move forward.
The SRD’s last offer requested that staff return to work immediately so that the community can resume full use of the facility and programs while both parties work towards a solution through mediation. The SRD also proposed using Vince Ready, who is widely regarded as the top mediator and arbitrator in Canada and asked for a commitment that if the parties were not able to achieve agreement through this second attempt at mediation, they would move to arbitration. In binding arbitration, both parties would accept the decision of a neutral, third-party arbitrator. Proposing binding arbitration as a backup to mediation will ensure that the current labour dispute has a clear pathway to resolution and that USW does not return to strike action that further disrupts facility services and programs. Arbitration would only be considered as a last resort. This approach is a common progression of steps to resolve a labour dispute so that USW, SRD, employees, and the community know what process will be followed moving forward.
The union’s proposal to rely only on mediation provides no guarantee to the community that recreation and rehabilitation services will not experience further disruptions. The facility user groups and teams need certainty so they can schedule games and activities.
Negotiations for a new collective agreement began over a year ago in December 2020. The SRD’s priority has been to negotiate, in good faith, an agreement that is: 1) financially responsible to taxpayers (City of Campbell River and Area D), 2) keeps user fees reasonable, and 3) provides fair compensation to employees through wages and benefits.
After months of negotiations that have included mediation, a rejected tentative agreement, and three additional rejected SRD offers, the SRD has agreed to try mediation again as long as there is some guarantee that there will be no further disruption in service. The Commission is committed to pursuing binding arbitration as the next progressive step to resolving the outstanding dispute should mediation not be successful.
To Strathcona Gardens Employees:
The SRD values you and the community service you provide at Strathcona Gardens. We are committed to resolving the labour dispute. The SRD has continued to pay employee benefits during the strike, which is an additional 30% comprehensive benefit package received by Strathcona employees on top of wages.
To Facility Patrons:
The SRD has heard from many community members about this issue and the importance of the facility. We know that this strike action negatively affects the community. We assure you that neither the SRD or Strathcona Gardens employees want to be in this situation, and we look forward to resuming rehabilitation, recreation, and leisure services as quickly as possible.