BCGEU out of gate early with public service bargaining conferences - BCGEU

VANCOUVER – The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is ramping up pre-bargaining efforts by conducting bargaining conferences this week, even though most collective agreements aren't set to expire until 2019.

Delegates from across the province gathered in Vancouver to hammer out bargaining priorities for upcoming negotiations, which are expected to take place in the new year.

"A year and a half may seem a long time, but there are important issues that require urgent attention," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "British Columbians can't wait a year and a half for real solutions."

"There are so many priorities that need immediate attention – from enhancing child protection services identified in the Plecas report, to solving recruitment and retention issues across key sectors, and ensuring adequate resources for people affected by the opioid crisis. We have an opportunity to address the erosion of public services, and we're eager to get to work."

Members from across the public services sector have expressed concern that 16 years of restraint have eroded wage parity with the private sector, leading to serious recruitment and retention issues in key areas.

"Unfilled vacancies, unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive wages have created a siege mentality in many workplaces," says Smith. "Social workers, sheriffs, corrections officers and community social service workers are just a few areas that need immediate attention."

The BCGEU is British Columbia's fastest growing union, with more than 73,000 members working in direct government service, the broader public sector and service sectors in British Columbia.