BCGEU begins contract talks

The B.C. government begins contract talks with one of its largest employee groups this week, and the union wants a raise.

BCGEU president Darryl Walker

The B.C. government begins contract talks with one of its largest unions this week, and the union wants a raise as most of its members come off a two-year wage freeze.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees Union represents 25,000 direct provincial employees, including prison guards, deputy sheriffs, liquor store staff, social workers, probation officers, biologists, lab workers and nursing and other staff at facilities including Riverview Hospital and Forensic Psychiatric Hospital.

Another group of BCGEU workers in health, community social service and other jobs with contracted agencies are set to begin talks in February. About 85 per cent of all union members have contracts expiring in 2012.

“We’ll be going to every table determined to get wage improvements,” BCGEU president Darryl Walker said.

In bargaining conferences held with union members in December, members also want improvements to benefits and job security.

As the union and the provincial bargaining agency exchange opening proposals, the B.C. government is looking at a $3.1 billion operating deficit for this year. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon has repeatedly indicated that there will be no budget increases to pay higher wages.

In its October throne speech, the government said any raises would have to be funded by “cooperative gains” that create savings elsewhere.

That declaration is similar to the “net zero” mandate in effect for the last two years. Most provincial unions accepted the two-year freeze, but the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has refused and withdrawn non-essential services since September.

Walker has suggested that opening more government liquor stores on Sundays could generate additional revenues to fund a raise for BCGEU staff. And he isn’t ruling out strike action.

“We have a tough road ahead,” Walker wrote in an open letter to members on the BCGEU website. “But we’re prepared for any action we have to take to get you the improved contracts you’ve earned.”

Just Posted

Car crashes through front doors at Hope Pharmasave

No one injured as a result of Thursday morning crash, and store is still open despite the damage

Hope school board candidates talk SOGI, successes and rocky patches of past four years

Six candidates are vying for three Hope trustee positions up for grabs in an Oct. 20 election

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

Cindy Young makes second run for top political job at the District of Hope

Young, in her run for mayor, is campaigning to attract business to Hope and keep local youth in the community

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

B.C. teen gives away tickets to Ellen Degeneres show, plans O Canada welcome

The Grade 9 student wanted to give away tickets in the spirit of inclusivity

Canada’s top general takes aim at new reports of military sexual assault

Gen. Jonathan Vance is unhappy some troops continue to ignore his order to cease all sexual misconduct

Online fundraiser to cover funeral costs of motorcyclist killed in collision

Larry Nizio, 37, died after crash with pickup truck Oct. 12 in Abbotsford

Ignoring climate change poses potential catastrophe for B.C.

Fisheries scientist says ‘extraordinary challenges’ in water management lie ahead

Grow ops left in legal weeds

“I think people are going to get a big surprise that it’s not going to change things much.”

Driving with dope: Police talk rules on cannabis in the car

Even though pot is legal, you can’t smoke in the car

Most Read