June 17, 2014 7:04 pm
Updated: June 18, 2014 9:24 am

WATCH: Retreat’s tranquility broken by labour dispute

NARAMATA – An attempt to save money at the Naramata Centre is going to cost the facility a great deal more, as the facility announces the cancellation of summer programs.

About 30 employees, members of CUPE Local 608, rejected the employers final offer May 14th and hit the picket line following a strike vote.

“With this labour disruption, we can’t operate properly and have the guests have a positive experience,” says Jim Simpson, the Centre’s Strategic Partnerships & Development Director.

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Simpson says the Centre, a non-profit retreat on 23 acres near Okanagan Lake, wants to contract out food services and maintenance which are jobs currently held by union members.

“There are certainly financial savings and it could be in the order of $100.000 or more,” says Simpson. “But it’s also about the flexibility and efficiencies (contracting out) gains you.”

While the employer holds firm on the desire to contract out jobs, the labour dispute will mean the Naramata Centre looses up to $700,000 this summer by cancelling programs and events.

The Harambee Festival cancelled its event at the Naramata Centre 10 days ago when it saw no movement in the labour dispute.

The event has been moved to Sorrento.

Union members are hoping the Naramata Centre Society becomes involved in negotiations instead of the Centre’s managers.

“The resolution shouldn’t be getting rid of the workers who have been there for years,” says Tom O’Leary, National Representative for CUPE Local 608. “It should be working with those workers to find solutions.”

Business owners in Naramata have friends on both sides of the dispute but say Naramata Centre visitors are an essential part of their yearly revenue.

“It’s going to affect all the businesses in town,” says Angelo Albano, owner of Café Nevermatters. “I really don’t see how it could not.”

No new talks are scheduled between the two sides.

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