Canwest News Service
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
VICTORIA -- All nine branches of the Greater Victoria Public Library are expected to be closed starting Sunday as a labour dispute between the Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association and its unionized workers escalates.
The GVPL board voted today to lock out Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 410, in a bid to bring an end to the five-month-long labour dispute.
Ed Seedhouse, president of CUPE Local 410, said the membership of close to 300 is "angry, determined and resolved" in bringing about a satisfactory agreement.
"I think the GVLRA are making a big mistake if they think we are not resolved and that we're not determined," Seedhouse said Wednesday.
"Unfortunately, I think a lot of people in Victoria who are innocent bystanders are going to have to suffer over the loss of their library services."
Key issues are pay equity with Victoria municipal workers and fair treatment for auxiliary workers.
Library staff began strike action on Sept. 7, 2007, but had remained on the job.
The labour dispute "is to the stage where the library can no longer operate viably," Ron Brunsden, chief negotiator of the GVLRA, said today.
The union's decision to stop collecting late fees and fines have cost the library $50,000 a month in revenue, he said, "and that's over half a million dollars a year - there's no facility to make that up."
There's no real pressure because the employees are still going to work, he said. "They're not providing the programs they're paid to provide to the public and we're still paying them full wages. They're working at 75-per-cent efficiency. No business can carry on like that for very long."