Grand Forks BCGEU members join province-wide strike today
Grand Forks members of the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU), which includes people who work at Service BC and the BC Liquor store, joined the 25,000 other members in a province-wide strike today, Wednesday, Sept. 5.
The union is currently in contract negotiations with the provincial government. They are asking for a 3.5 per cent increase this year followed by a cost of living increase next year. The government has offered a two per cent increase this year with a further 1.5 per cent increase in wages in July 2013.
BCGEU claim they have had a real wage cut of five per cent and they want pay cheques to match the cost of inflation.
“We are looking for a fair and reasonable agreement, but the government is not listening. We have no choice but to send a clear message to government: there can be no more falling behind for all government workers,” said BCGEU President Darryl Walker in a press release. “We’ve not taken the decision to strike lightly. Our last strike in direct government was more than 20 years ago.”
There are no future plans to strike after today, said Evan Stewart, BCGEU communications officer.
“The indication from the government is that they want to get back to the table and we couldn’t agree more,” said Stewart. “A settlement is close but it needs to be better than last year.”
The BCGEU has been without a contract since March. The last time they got a raise it was April 2009. Since then, inflation has gone up five to five and a half per cent, said Stewart.
The union, which represents 65,000 British Columbians in a diverse number of sectors including direct provincial government service like Service BC in Grand Forks. They also work in community health, community social services, child care, community colleges, casinos, hotels, highways maintenance, and the Canada Line.
Strike activity is happening in 153 communities across the province.
They are joined by members of the Professional Employees Association (PEA) and the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE) Local 378, who are also striking today.
Essential services continue. All employees will be returning to work as usual tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 6.