Legal aid lawyers to hold Friday rally

Talks are ongoing, says government, but union says they ended Sept. 30

Legal aid staff lawyers threatening to walk off the job Friday say they are ready to return to bargaining whenever the government wants.

“We would like to get a fair and equitable collective agreement,” said Harshada Deshpande, a staff lawyer at the Parents Legal Centre with the Legal Services Society (LSS).

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The 26 LSS lawyers represented by the Professional Employees Association issued 72-hour strike notice Monday.

Attorney General David Eby said Wednesday the government was in bargaining with the lawyers and hoped for a resolution.

Association spokesman Brett Harper said talks broke off Sept. 30.

The labour-action announcement came two weeks after Eby announced the province had struck a deal with lawyers doing legal aid work for those unable to afford legal representation.

“He can find money for 1,000 contract lawyers,” said association senior communications and member development officer Brett Harper. “We are asking him to find money for the 26 staff lawyers he forgot about.”

Those 26 lawyers are often the first point of contact for those seeking help navigating the legal system and frequently assist with family, criminal and other issues.

As things sit, the staffers will start a job action outside Vancouver’s downtown legal aid offices Friday morning with a rally at lunchtime. Speakers from the B.C. Federation of Labour and the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union are expected to attend.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

@jhainswo

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