While main arterial roads — to schools and hospitals — fall under the essential services umbrella

What qualifies as essential services?

With the strike of the city of Castlegar’s workers already approaching three weeks, concerns over who is providing essential services

  • Nov. 27, 2014 4:00 p.m.

Betsy Kline

 

Castlegar News

With the strike of the city of Castlegar’s workers already approaching three weeks, concerns over who is providing essential services, how they will be done, and just what is considered essential, are rising.

Back in July, prior to the beginning of CUPE strike action in the form of an overtime ban in August  and full scale strike action commencing November 8, the union and the city agreed on an essential services order.

The order was approved by the Labour Relations Board and was amended last week to include snow removal services.

The language of the agreement states, “The labour relations board designates the following facilities, productions and services as necessary or essential to prevent immediate and serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the residents of British Columbia.”

RCMP services are deemed essential, so two out of the three full time clerical positions at the detachment are being filled by the union employees. The payroll clerk is required to provide training for the purpose of generating the payroll.

The essential tasks will be performed by managers and exempt/excluded employees unless due to the size and nature of the work the city requires additional resources.

These services include sign repair, pump stations, flooding and backup issues, removal of road and street debris, tending to tree hazards, water system alarms, shutdowns or leaks, sewer system failures, mechanical maintenance to fire department and essential municipal vehicles and equipment and burials or internments.

Once an essential service need arises, all qualified non-union staff are immediately called in.  In order to have the right to call in bargaining unit members, all qualified staff must be working 60 hours per week.

Local CUPE 2262 president Leford Lafayette stated, “The essential services order says that the employer is supposed to use their resources efficiently.”

When asked what would happen in the case of an emergency Lafayette explained, “The management would make a call to the local office and we would dispatch people accordingly… within the constraints of the essential services order.” So far, mechanics have been called out to do repairs and water treatment workers have been needed. The city is not allowed to contract out or use volunteers to do any jobs the CUPE members usually do. Currently, management is doing everything from clerical work and building inspections to burials.

With the beginning of the snowfall, the question of snow removal services is on the minds of many Castlegar residents.

The essential services levels were set by the Labour Relations Board in accordance to the city’s snow policy. Major arterials and access to schools, hospitals and emergency services are always essential.  The trigger for the rest of the roads is 10 centimeters.

City staff is trying to provide services above the minimum essential level, but only have five staff qualified to operate the snow removal equipment. So far no bargaining unit members have been called in for snow removal.

Snow removal on sidewalks will not be done as City Bylaw 1120 requires property owners to remove snow and ice on the sidewalks adjoining their property.

 

Castlegar Chief Administrative Officer John Malcom explained, “Our goal, as always, is to maintain the health and safety of the residents of the city. At this point we have not asked for union help in terms of activities during the recent snow storm. If we continue to experience adverse weather conditions, then inevitably we will require the union workers to fulfill their obligations according to the essential services order.”

 

 

Just Posted

Province announces $23 million for upgrades at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District Board has yet to review the provincial proposal

UPDATE: Two-car accident closes Highway 3A at Thrums

Road expected to open for single-lane alternating traffic at 2 p.m.

OPINION: Florio Vassilakakis calls city tax increase ‘overly ambitious’

One city councillor’s take on the City of Castlegar’s proposed budget

Castlegar moves towards allowing more in-home childcare spaces

If passed, bylaw will increase the maximum number of children allowed to match provincial standards.

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Snow turns to slush, rain as it warms up across B.C.’s south coast

Some areas are already covered by more than half a metre of snow following three separate storms

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Police track armed kidnapping across Thompson-Okanagan

RCMP allege it was a targeted crime believed to be linked to the drug trade

St. Paul’s Hospital replacement slated to open in Vancouver in 2026

Announced many times, but this time there’s money, Adrian Dix says

Fourteen ‘dream’ homes ordered evacuated as sinkholes open in Sechelt

Sinkholes throughout the subdivision have prompted the District of Sechelt to issue evacuation orders

Most Read