May 30, 2014 5:32 pm

Surrey woman caught up in two labour disputes

Lisa Snickars of Surrey has been on two picket lines in the last 24 hours.

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A Surrey woman is finding herself behind two picket lines at the same time.

Lisa Snickars works as a part-time support worker at Martha Currie Elementary.

She is also a part-time employee at Richmond’s IKEA store that has been behind a picket line for over a year now.

Snickars has been working in the education system for 15 years, and spent the last 23 years working for IKEA.

She’s been busy jumping from picket line to picket line in the last 24 hours.

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“I was on the picket line yesterday in Surrey,” she says. “Tonight, as soon as I finish here in school, I have to drive to IKEA and picket there. It is a four-hour picket shift at the school and a six-hour picket shift in IKEA. It is a lot. More than I work sometimes.”

B.C. teachers have been holding rotating strikes affecting every district in the province throughout this week. Meanwhile, 300 store employees at IKEA’s Richmond store have been caught up in a labour dispute with their employer since May of last year.

Snickars says it is a frustrating experience to be caught up in two labour disputes at the same time.

“I have seen a decline in the way things have been running at IKEA. In parallel with the schools, it has just completely changed from when I initially started working here 15 years ago and 23 years ago. So I know what was done in the past, and that it can be done, and changes need to be made on both fronts.”

She plans to be back on the picket line with the teachers next Tuesday as the teachers’ union goes into the second week of rotating strikes.

As to what the future holds for either union, Snickars can only venture a guess.

“Honestly, it’s gone on for so long with IKEA, you just kind of shake your head and say, I don’t know what else can be done. There has been some negotiation, but there has not been a moving point,” she says. “With the teachers, we can totally see where they are coming from, because we are affected directly in the classroom. It is just a really bad situation.”

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