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 Most provincial unions accepted the two-year freeze, but the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has refused and withdrawn non-essential services since September.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

Harrison to replace final incandescent street lights with LEDs

The $186,000 project is the second-phase of a replacement plan for the village

Harrison Hot Springs to consider single-use plastics ban

Village staff will come back to council with a report on what a possible ban could look like

Wonder Pup book series by Chilliwack author teaches kids self-regulation skills

Author Angela Murphy and illustrator Davis Graham release first book Speak Up, Wonder Pup

Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge construction could start in 2021, MLA says

The project is expected to cost substantially more than budgeted in 2017

Fraser Valley developer offering to build barn owl nesting boxes for free

Gore Brothers says anyone with a suitable building can help the threatened raptor

VIDEO: Reading splashes into Agassiz’s Ferny Coombe Pool

The Agassiz Library held its annual Reading in the Pool event Friday, June 14

Update: Multiple fires along the railway tracks in Pitt Meadows

CP rail has closed tracks while firefighters work

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

B.C. high school withdraws notices for temporary dress code

Parents previously told the Interior News they felt there was inadequate consultation over the rules

VIDEO: Toronto Raptors announcer credited with calming crowds after shooting

Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer since 2008, was praised for preventing panic from spreading

Mini-horse visits residents at Lower Mainland care home

Gunner turned a visit with grandpa into a major event for everyone at the residence

Most Read