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Talks between the Public Service Agency (PSA) of the BC Government and BCGEU – the province’s largest union have broken down. The union’s collective agreement with government expired on April 1st. Strike vote canvasing was held between May 16 and June 22, culminating in a vote count. 95% of BCGEU members are in favour of a strike – the union’s largest ever strike vote.
“I couldn’t be happier with this strong result”, said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President and chair of the bargaining committee. Read the BCGEU strike vote announcement. The union’s key demand, rejected by government, is cost-of-living based wage protection. Smith says that “Any wage offer that doesn’t include COLA protection is a wage cut, and no worker should have to accept a pay cut.”
BCGEU employees provide many direct public services including BC liquor distribution and cannabis distribution, health care and social services, education, highways maintenance, forest fire fighting, and government clerical and technical services.
BC private liquor stores, cannabis stores, pubs and restaurants could experience supply-chain disruptions in the event of job action. ABLE BC (Alliance of Beverage Licensees BC) has been in talks with government and believes that the integrity of the supply chain will be protected, stating “At this time, we are confident the supply chain will remain intact. However, members may wish to consider increasing their liquor inventory in the short term to protect against any potential disruptions to supply.”
As reported by Global News, the government has offered a contract that includes wage increases totalling nearly 11% over three years and a $2500 signing bonus, but the union says it’s planning job action.
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