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Strike averted in North Okanagan

Job action has been avoided at North Okanagan-Shuswap schools.

Custodians, bus drivers and other support workers could have walked off the job Tuesday but a tentative contract was hammered out Monday.

“It was a hard day for everyone but everyone put their heads together and found compromises that work for everyone,” said Rob Hewitt, CUPE local 523 bargaining committee spokesperson.

But a level of uncertainty remains.

North Okanagan-Shuswap CUPE members will vote on the contract but they are part of a single collective unit with two South Okanagan districts. That means a majority vote among the members in the three areas will determine the fate of the deal and any future job action.

“It’s all three districts or none,” said Hewitt.

It’s not known when the North Okanagan-Shuswap school board will vote on the contract, and if there will be support for the document.

“I’m not sure what it will cost us,” said Chris Coers, Enderby trustee, who hoped to see some of the details Tuesday.

“Hopefully it’s not too much and it’s something we can handle in a different budget and not a budget that’s already been approved.”

A sticking point was long-term disability benefits, but Hewitt won’t provide any details on how that matter was resolved because the terms have not been released to his members yet.

It’s not known when the union membership will vote on the proposed contract.

“Our goal is to have it done in a week to 10 days,” said Hewitt, adding that the bargaining committee is recommending endorsement.

 

Benefits are considered a local issue and they were the focus of Monday’s negotiations, while wages are a provincially negotiated matter.

 

 

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