Jail guards working at the new Kelowna police services building have voted to strike.—Capital News file

Kelowna unionized jail guards vote to strike

Union leader says he felt city and CUPE 338 were close to a deal, but negotiations broke down.

Unionized jail guards at the Kelowna RCMP Detachment have voted unanimously in favour of strike action after negotiations broke down between the organization they are members of, the Commissionaires, and the City of Kelowna.

The 17 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 338, provide correctional services and supervise offenders, originally voted in favour to strike in May. They chose not to take any action at that time and focused on resolving negotiations through mediation, which included discussions with the city.

Despite the strike vote, CUPE 338 president Lee Mossmansaid he believed “the two sides were very close to an agreement.”

“The reality is that our members are paid less than other workers in comparable positions and that is causing retention issues as well as health and safety concerns,” said Mossman. “We believe that if we can resolve this issue we will be able to conclude negotiations.”

According to Mossman, jail guards in similar-sized and nearby communities make approximately $5 more per hour than workers in Kelowna.

A meeting with the Labour Relations Board to negotiate essential service levels has been set. Following those discussions, 72-hour strike notice will have be to served for the union to take strike action.

CUPE Local 338 represents 1,000 members who provide key community services to Kelowna area residents and businesses.