James Bay Branch
The sxʷeŋ’xʷəŋ taŋ’exw James Bay Branch hosted its grand opening on Saturday, May 26. (Greater Victoria Public Library)

Employees at Greater Victoria Public Library branches voted over 85% in favour of strike action following unsuccessful negotiations with library representatives.

“After bargaining collaboratively for more than a year to make significant progress on key issues, the employer presented workers with a list of concession demands,” said Helen Hughes, CUPE 410 president.

“The employer refuses to move on its concession demands and refuses to answer key questions about sweeping changes proposed to scheduling and use of auxiliary workers.”

The union, which represents 240 workers at the Greater Victoria Public Library, states that the concessions demands are related to the rules and wages about weekend scheduling, and job security in the face of using student workers instead of existing auxiliary staff.

Hughes argues that the Library aims to save tens of thousands of dollars by replacing long-service staff with employees who can be paid less and have fewer rights.

The employer will be applying to the BC Labour Relations Board to have a mediator appointed and both parties are hopeful that negotiations will eventually resume a positive tone.

“The last thing we want is to disrupt library users’ access to the services they count on,” said Hughes. “Know that we will be doing all we can to seek a negotiated resolution.”

The Greater Victoria Public Library has branches across 10 municipalities in the CRD.

According to their 2018 budget report, the library received over $17.4 million in municipal contributions, $642,000 from provincial grants, and about $7,000 of federal contributions.

Salaries and benefits account for about $13.5 million of their annual expenses.