About 75 B.C. Government Employees Union members picketed outside Family Place on Wellington Avenue on Wednesday morning.

Chilliwack parents voice support for striking BCGEU workers

Parents contacted by The Progress supported Wednesday’s job action by BC Government Employees Union despite the disruption to child care.

Chilliwack parents contacted by The Progress supported Wednesday’s job action by BC Government Employees Union despite the disruption to child care.

Lauren Haggerty said she was “disappointed” when she heard that Chilliwack had been targeted for the one-day strike at Chilliwack Community Services, but through Facebook she was able to contact other parents and make alternate arrangements.

“We can find something to do for one day,” she said.

Haggerty and several other parents took their children to the ‘Go Bananas’ inside playground.

“It doesn’t seem to be a major impact on me,” said Keiron Wheeler.

Parents had nothing but praise for the staff and the Family Place program.

“It’s important for routine and interaction with other kids,” Sarah Merrick said.

The Chilliwack job action affected the Chilliwack Society for Community Living and Chilliwack Community Services where 232 BCGEU members are employed.

None of the Chilliwack parents interviewed felt they knew the issues behind the job action, but all supported a wage increase.

BCGEU’s community services chairperson Patsy Harmston said starting wages are $15 an hour, “a dollar less than 10 years ago.”

“Many of us have had to take on second jobs or are having to leave the work we love,” she said.

The union with 27,000 members is asking for a 3.5 per cent wage increase in the first year of a new contract, and a cost of living increase in the second.

But the B.C. government is holding to its zero wage increase mandate to help balance the provincial budget.

The job action Wednesday affected 153 communities across B.C., but union officials said essential services would be maintained.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

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