City issues 72-hour lockout notice
Following the rejection of the City of Kimberley’s Last Offer by the city’s United steelworkers Union employees, the City of Kimberley has issued 72-hour lockout notice effective Sunday, August 28 at 2:58 p.m.
“There had been some hope of reaching an agreement through mediation,” said Chief Administrative Officer Scott Sommerville. “However, on the final day the union committee chair did not bother to attend the mediation and the union added conditions to the previous day’s agreement on a four-year term. This along with the rejection of a number of the city’s proposals then led the city’s bargaining committee to present a best and final offer, which was also rejected. With talks breaking down again, the city then chose to present the offer directly to our employees as a last hope of avoiding a work stoppage.”
“The city has been operating under threat of strike for more than two months, since the union membership approved a strike mandate on June 21. Since the beginning of negotiations, the union has filed 72 grievances, and we have seen eight new Short-Term Disability and WorkSafeBC claims. Attendance and productivity is also dropping, as the uncertainty takes its toll on all of our employees,” said Sommerville.
The final offer was rejected by a 93% margin, 65-5 with 70 members casting their vote. A clear message was sent to the city that the offer was substandard, confusing, contained mistakes and was not negotiated or endorsed by the union, a USW bargain bulletin stated.
ÈShortly after the results of the vote was tabulated, the union received a letter from the city serving the union and our membersè 72-hour lockout notice. The union communicated to the city that our bargaining committee is ready to return to the bargaining table anytime to negotiate a fair collective agreement,È the notice said.
Unfortunately, the city has chosen to initiate a work stoppage starting Sunday afternoon or Monday, depending on when the Labour Relations Board receives the notice. The union will advise of the expiry of 72-hour deadline. The Bargaining Committee will be meeting to go over the next steps in preparation for the city-initiated job action, it related.
The city remains committed to the process of negotiating a new collective agreement that is fair and reasonable to employees and taxpayers and that allows the city to efficiently deliver services, Sommerville said.
The city’s bargaining team remains available for negotiations. With the last offer being presented from the city, the Union has yet to contact the city to book any further bargaining dates.
Essential services and other basic services are in place to ensure public safety and to provide the best possible service under these difficult circumstances.
• Fire Department and RCMP – will operate as normal
• City Hall – closed Monday, August 29 – New Hours will be 10-2 Monday to Friday
• Garbage – New Schedule http://kimberley.ca/news/updated-garbage-schedule
• Aquatic Centre – will be closed indefinitely on Sunday, August 28
• Civic and Marysville Arenas- will be closed indefinitely on Sunday, August 28
• Centennial Hall – will be closed except for existing bookings.
• Water and Wastewater – will operate as normal.
• Cemetery – will operate as normal.
• Road Maintenance – some delays are expected
• Bylaw Enforcement – some delays and service reductions should be expected
• Building Inspection – service will not be available –
The City of Kimberley will issue press releases and update the website and Facebook page to keep the public informed of any service disruptions that may occur due to the lockout. Please check these regularly.