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Sidney/North Saanich VIRL branch site of a strike for second straight day

Wednesday evening sees resumption of negotiations between VIRL and BCGEU
Members of BCGEU on strike outside the Sidney/North Saanich branch of VIRL last week. The facility also closed Tuesday and Wednesday as part of labour actions with negotiations set to resume Wednesday evening. (Black Press Media file photo)

As the Sidney/North Saanich branch of Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) remains closed for the second straight day because of rotating strike actions, negotiations are set to resume Wednesday evening.

“Pickets continue today (Wednesday) at VIRL’s Nanaimo Harbourfront, Campbell River and Sidney branches after mediated negotiations resumed last night, prompted by the employer,” BC General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) said in a statement to Black Press. “Unfortunately, the employer did not make us an offer but we agreed to meet again with them this (Wednesday) evening. We’re ready and waiting to receive a fair and respectful offer and will continue job action, and our call on the VIRL board to authorize a new wage mandate until we do.”

The Sidney/North Saanich branch was also the site of job actions last week, meaning the facility has been closed three times over the last two weeks.

David Carson, VIRL’s director of corporate communications and strategic initiatives, confirmed the upcoming meeting. “(And) we look forward to advancing the discussion towards a hopeful resolution,” he said.

RELATED: Sidney/North Saanich library closes for second time in a week over job action

BCGEU announced Feb. 22 that 95 per cent of Local 702 members, representing 42 full-time employees (12 per cent of VIRL’s permanent workforce), had voted in favour of job action. The union issued 72-hour strike notice Feb. 24.

The collective agreement between the VIRL and BC General Employees’ Union Local 702 expired Dec. 31, 2020, and the two sides have been bargaining since September 2021.

BCGEU said on its website that librarians are seeking a deal that aligns their compensation with other libraries in the province and reflects the rising cost of living across Vancouver Island.

VIRL said earlier that 80 per cent of the communities VIRL serves are rural coastal communities, grappling with post-pandemic economic recovery in calling for an agreement sustainable for all the communities.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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