Week 5 of public service negotiations resumed this week with the BCGEU Public Service Bargaining Committee and the provincial government’s Public Service Agency (PSA) exchanging complete monetary packages. As we have been telling the government bargaining committee since day one, compensation is the critical piece to achieving a renewed collective agreement.
The economic and political instability we witness daily has driven inflation in Canada and elsewhere to heights we have not seen for decades. Canadian inflation hit 5.1% last month, and is expected to increase for the next few months at least.
To protect your wages from inflation and general uncertainty, your committee has tabled a proposal for a two year agreement with cost of living protections – COLA – in each year.
Your committee believes both the shorter term of agreement and COLA protections are prudent. We are also well aware that COLA protections are becoming more common in collective agreements and employment contracts. In fact, annual increases in the minimum wage are tied to inflation starting this year, MLA wage increases have been tied to inflation since 2007 (with their next COLA increase due on April 1st, 2022), and even annual allowable rent increases in B.C. are linked to inflation.
Given the contents of the government’s budget and fiscal plan announced February 22nd, 2022, we also know that COLA protection for public service members is affordable for this government.
Despite those facts, the employer’s wage proposal fell well short of offering such protections to BCGEU members. In fact, there is a massive chasm between the employer’s initial wage proposal and what you’ve told us you are willing to accept. To preserve the integrity of negotiations, we can’t disclose specifics while we are at the bargaining table. You will be provided with all of the information before you are asked to make a decision on how to proceed.
The employer’s committee told us when they tabled their proposal that the amounts tabled were the maximum they were authorized to present.
Overall, negotiations have been productive and cooperative. However, your committee has heard you loud and clear: cost of living protections are critical to achieving the agreement you deserve and will be able to ratify. Because of this, your committee has decided to pause negotiations with the employer until next week. We have asked the employer’s committee to use the time to seek new instructions, and more money, from the government. The government’s response to this request will determine our next steps. We need a renewed collective agreement that addresses B.C.’s rising cost of living and values and respects the efforts of members who provide critically important services for the public.
Your bargaining committee will continue to work on our package during the break and negotiations are scheduled to resume in Victoria on March 14th, 2022 for our sixth week of talks.
REMINDER: It is important that your bargaining committee can contact members to communicate important information about the bargaining process. Please check with your coworkers to ensure they are receiving these important updates. Log in to update information here.
Your BCGEU Public Service Bargaining Committee
Stephanie Smith, President
Paul Finch, Treasurer
Judy Phipps, Executive Vice President
Dean Purdy, Vice President - Component 1
Kusam Doal, Vice President - Component 5
Judy Fox-McGuire, Vice President - Component 6
Cynthia Mepham-Egli, Component 6 Acting First Vice-Chairperson
Maria Middlemiss, Vice President - Component 12
Matt Damario, Component 12 First Vice-Chairperson
Robert Davis, Vice President - Component 20
Michael Eso, Secretary and Chief Negotiator
Lisa Lane, Support Staff
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