Unionized librarians with the Vancouver Island Regional Library are on the picket line in Nanaimo.
Members of the BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) are set to picket at VIRL’s Harbourfront Library Branch in downtown Nanaimo, the second planned job action taken since the union issued a strike notice on Feb. 28.
VIRL librarians and other employees represented by the BCGEU have been without a contract since December 2020 and negotiations for a new contract have been ongoing since September 2021.
On March 9, BCGEU members picketed out front of the Cowichan Branch in North Cowichan, marking the beginning of job action. The union says they haven’t received any response to a counteroffer they submitted last week.
“It’s been over a week since we heard from the employer – that’s not acceptable. We want to return to negotiations and to work, serving our communities,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “We know service disruptions from job action are stressful for the community and so members paused job action Thursday in hopes the employer would take our action seriously and send an offer. We’re disappointed that hasn’t happened yet. VIRL’s management has the power to restore library services.”
Librarians are also calling on the VIRL Board of Trustees to encourage the employer to provide a fair offer and return to negotiations. The union says more pickets are planned should nothing change.
“We’ve received a response from the VIRL Board, which we’re grateful for, but unfortunately it hasn’t resulted in a response from the employer. Until we do receive a fair offer to take back to members, the union is making plans on a day-by-day basis,” said Smith.
The union’s picket in Nanaimo will take place from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m.