The BCGEU is calling on the Salvation Army to reinstate workers laid off earlier this week in what the non-profit calls a business decision.
“The business decision that was made to eliminate product sorting for Victoria’s distribution centre is rooted in efficiency and sustainability that allows us to continue to serve,” said Kyla Ferns, communications co-ordinator for the British Columbia division of The Salvation Army, in an email to the News. “The layoffs were a business decision that was made to eliminate redundancies in jobs being done in different locations and follows decisions already made and implemented in every other distribution centre across the country.”
The union says the Salvation Army National Recycling Operation laid off 10 workers at its recycling centre in Saanich without warning.
“These are disappointing actions from an employer who depends on the goodwill of the public and the commitment of its workers,” said BCGEU president Darryl Walker. “These workers deserve to be treated with respect, according the provisions of the collective agreement signed by the Salvation Army National Recycling Operation and in full compliance with the labour laws of our province. The Salvation Army is failing on all counts.”
The union claims the work will now be performed by non-union workers at each Thrift Store in Victoria and Duncan, a breach of the collective agreement. It is also in violation of Sec. 54 of the B.C. Labour Relations Code which requires 60 days’ notice of termination, and includes provisions around severance and the implementation of an adjustment plan.
“The layoffs were due to an elimination of positions and we are not adding employees or hours as a result of this action,” Ferns said. “We value our people, the community, and our guests and as with all we do, we were compassionate with our approach. This was not an easy decision to make and the people involved were paid in lieu of notice and severance in accordance with the collective agreement.”
After meeting with some of the former staff that was laid off, Walker still hopes to address the decision with the Salvation Army.
“For somebody who’s got over 20, 25 years of service, it goes from disbelief to anger to ‘how do we deal with this? Some are hurt,” Walker said. “We’re in the process of contacting the HR at the Salvation Army and letting them know they’ve missed the mark. …We’d like to sit down and do what we need to do which is represent the members.”