Thompson Rivers University’s 600 support workers could be off the job by Thursday after their union served 72-hour strike notice Monday.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees served notice on behalf of its members at six universities in B.C., including TRU, Simon Fraser, University of Northern B.C., UBC and University of Victoria.
TRU’s vice-president advancement Christopher Seguin said there are no disruptions to classes or services yet, and the university is hopeful an agreement can be reached without a strike.
The union represents about 600 support staff at TRU. Last month, they voted 83 per cent in favour of strike action. Of those 600 workers, 68 per cent participated in the strike vote.
Seguin said he wouldn’t discuss contingency plans at this time. TRU and the other universities are represented at the bargaining table by the University Public Sector Employers’ Association.
Lois Rugg, CUPE Local 4879 president, said the next round of bargaining is scheduled for Oct. 18 and 19.
But the union wants an indication before that that shows the employer is serious about talks.
“What we want to have happen is the employer to come to the table with some serious proposals. We need to encourage them to do that,” she said.
“We’ve heard they’re not in any rush.”
The last contract expired on March 31, 2010, and the members have had no increases since then. With inflation factored in, that amounts to cuts to the workers’ salaries, she said.
“Based on our previous discussions, we need them to come with more serious offers,” she said.
“We’re looking for a reasonable increase that will help cover that and inflation in the future.”
Rugg said the union wants some type of cost of living increase plus job security accommodations.
Support workers at TRU do almost all jobs except teaching — from cleaning to clerical to information technology.
With five universities involved, there are a range of job actions that could kick into effect as of Thursday, she said.
“You could see some job action building up. But our intention is to negotiate in good faith with the employer,” said Rugg.
“We don’t want to affect the students, but it may be a result of what we need to do.”