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

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 Most provincial unions accepted the two-year freeze, but the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has refused and withdrawn non-essential services since September.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

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctors urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Most Read