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All Union Employees on Strike as Library Dispute Escalates

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The labour dispute between the Vancouver Island Regional Library and librarians is continuing to escalate.

Strike notice was filed at the end of February, and although negotiations continue, all union employees took strike action on Wednesday morning.

The union says of all library systems in BC, VIRL librarians are the lowest paid and their executives are among the highest paid.

“Furthermore, since 2018, VIRL has created nine new executive positions – one of which is filled by an out-of-province employee – and those executives received substantial salary increases in 2020 – the same year the librarians’ collective agreement expired,” reads the union’s statement before strike action on Wednesday.

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“Librarians don’t want to be on picket lines. They want to get back to the work they love – serving their community,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “But without a fair offer librarians have no other choice but to escalate. VIRL has the power to end this job action at any moment and they know that.”

The library says on March 22 they offered a four year proposal to the union within their specified salary range but the union rejected it.

Their most recent statement reads, “VIRL encourages BCGEU to suspend its service-impacting strike and reconsider VIRL’s March 22 proposal. The proposal exceeds historically negotiated adjustments, meets BCGEU’s stated expectation, and spares communities and residents from new taxes. The offer still stands.”

Closed for strike action on Thursday were the Library branches in South Cowichan, Nanaimo Harbourfront, Qualicum Beach, and Cumberland.

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