The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) says a protest outside its corporate office this week turned disrespectful.
This past Monday, Nov. 22, Strathcona Gardens employees walked the picket line for the fourth time, rallying for an increase in wages.
According to SRD chair Brad Unger, that’s also the day members of the Campbell River Minor Hockey Association gathered outside the SRD’s Cedar St. office in Campbell River.
At Strathcona Gardens, hockey game schedules have been impacted, and Unger says the crowd was protesting the ongoing labour dispute, showing support for United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1-1937.
This past summer, USW members turned down a four-year contract proposal from the SRD, with wage hikes of two to two and a quarter per cent per year. They felt it wasn’t on par with the rising cost of living.
And while Unger says Minor Hockey’s protest was intended to be peaceful, he alleges protestors not only entered the office building unmasked, but banged on windows and swore at SRD employees.
“While much of Tuesday’s demonstration was respectful, some behaviours were out of line and purposefully intimidating to staff and disruptive to neighbouring businesses who have nothing to do with the facility closure or collective bargaining,” Unger explains.
He recognizes emotions are high, but notes that the SRD won’t tolerate aggressive tactics, “nor will these behaviours help the facility reopen any sooner.”
In a statement to our newsroom, Minor Hockey Association president Stewart Dumont says, “the rally was approximately 90 minutes, with a regrettable 40 seconds of a few young kids close to the doorway chanting. It was quickly corrected.”
According to Stewart, the association isn’t taking sides in the dispute. He says all Minor Hockey games are cancelled while Strathcona Gardens employees are on strike.
“With the disruption of regular staff levels, and active picket lines, we cannot be certain there will be appropriate levels of supervision for our players,” Stewart adds.
Following Nov. 22 job action at Strathcona Gardens, the SRD says access to the complex’s aquatic facility, fitness area and programming is suspended indefinitely. However, the arenas remain open for all booked ice users.
More details from the SRD here.