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Component bargaining update - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)

During the week of January 31st, negotiators for the five Component bargaining tables entered into negotiations with the provincial government (Public Service Agency). Component agreements cover non-monetary issues and solely focus on improvements to working conditions. It should be noted that while component agreements do cover monetary issues, the employer refuses to negotiate monetary items during component bargaining and insists on referring them to the Main table.
Last year, we embarked on what turned out to be a record-level of engagement with members through surveys, polls, proposals and member-to-member outreach.
You told us fair compensation is the key to ratifying a Public Service Agreement. Monetary issues will be bargained in the weeks to come in larger negotiations known as the 'Main table'. It's where we negotiate wages and working conditions impacting all public service workers.
Below is a summary of significant negotiated changes at each Component bargaining table:
Correctional & Sheriff Services – Component 1
Some of the highlights that were agreed to by the parties include:

  • The renewal of the 40-hour work week letter allowing discussions to continue going forward for Adult and Youth Corrections and Sheriff Services;
  • The requirement of JOHS risk assessment for all inmate escorts to default to two officers;
  • Youth Custody added to the uniform committee; and
  • Sheriff Services vacation scheduling by calendar year and by classification. 

It was mutually agreed upon to move the following proposals to the main table for further negotiations: boot allowance and maintenance of work apparel premiums for Adult Corrections, Youth Corrections and Sheriffs, parity amongst all classifications, Youth Custody part-time/regular agreement and Adult Custody overtime by classification. The full list will be released once all proposals at the main table have been negotiated.
Retail Stores & Warehouse – Component 5
The Component 5 bargaining committee stood strong in bargaining against numerous concessionary proposals from the employer. Their continued strength and determination to represent the membership through the bargaining process was a success. Highlights include:

  • Increased stewards at several locations to improve access to union representation;
  • Lunchrooms will no longer be used for employers’ labour relations meetings when other space is available.  When other space is not available, lunchrooms will not be used during prescribed periods to ensure employees are able to utilize their lunchroom during breaks and to protect members’ confidentiality;
  • New groups recognized as separate work units for the purpose of vacation preferences; and
  • Vacation schedules being circulated earlier in the year.

Social, Information & Health – Component 6
The Component 6 bargaining committee tabled proposals to address the lack of mental health supports for our members in their unique roles, new language for flexible/telework, stronger language in the Appendix 4 review process, new language for exit interview surveys, new language for lateral transfers and proposals for increases to the monetary articles in the component agreement. 
While agreement was not reached on all our proposals, the committees is satisfied with the gains that were made in this round of bargaining.
Agreement was reached on a new Appendix 10 to support the mental health of component 6 members. This will allow a committee of both union and employer representatives to identify mental health support gaps, recommend mitigations and provide more information about our members' unique roles and responsibilities to access appropriate mental health supports for our members.
The union and the employer worked together to expand some Seniority Units in Appendix 2 for auxiliary employees. We see this as a starting point and have put the employer on notice that we will be seeking further expansions in the next round of bargaining.
Administrative Professionals – Component 12
The Component 12 bargaining committee tabled proposals to address key issues that members have identified as priorities: workload, career development, and working from home to name a few.
In recognition of your professionalism and dedication, we have changed our Component name to the Administrative Professionals Component.  This is a small symbolic step towards getting the respect you deserve. Although we were able to make some small gains, we were extremely disappointed that the employer was not more receptive to our priorities and we will be pursuing these at the Main table because we know how important they are. 
Along with our name change we successfully got language ensuring that the employer will not have staff performing work duties before the start of their shift; small improvements in the workload and supply and maintenance of equipment.
Environment, Technical and Operations – Component 20
The Component 20 bargaining committee agreed to just over 30 changes. The details of these changes will be provided after the unresolved issues are settled by the Main table. Hours-of-work provisions were clearly of most interest to members and there were changes made to tighten up the language in Article 7 and MOU #6.  A new hours-of-work committee and alternate dispute resolution process was created.
BC Wildfire member issues were discussed, and issues such as faller allowances, incident command roles and hazzard pay were discussed and referred to the Main table for resolution. Both sides recommend that the current faller allowances need substantial increases. 
Many thanks to the bargaining committee for the long hours put in to get through many bargaining resolutions despite half of the committee having to deal with illness during the week as well.