Gateway's Okanagan casino workers on strike
Workers in Kamloops, Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton will walk off the job on Friday
(Okanagan) Over 675 members of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) working at Gateway Casinos in the Okanagan are walking off the job at 3:01 pm on Friday, June 29. Casino workers at Cascades Kamloops, Cascades Penticton, Playtime Kelowna and Lake City Vernon are set to strike after mediation broke down earlier this week.
"Our members are asking for living wages that would bring them in-line with the industry standard for casino workers in BC," says BCGEU President Stephanie Smith.
"These workers are the heart of their casinos. Gateway is a successful company in a highly profitable industry – they can afford to pay their staff what they are worth."
Smith explains, "by paying workers living wages, the money that Gateway makes in the Okanagan stays in the local economy instead of going to Vancouver, or even Ontario where Gateway owns several large properties."
In a vote held from June 4 to 6, over 88% of Gateway staff in all four Okanagan casinos came out and voted 93.1% in favour of taking strike action. On Monday, June 25, the union delivered the required 72-hours-notice of strike action.
Gateway's Okanagan staff have been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement since the last one expired in September 2017.
Negotiations broke off in May after the employer refused to offer wages and benefits that are industry standard at comparable casinos. Both parties met for a few days of mediated talks over the past two weeks but could not reach an agreement on key monetary issues.
Smith says the employer's offer is unacceptable. "The wages Gateway are offering won't even keep ahead of the planned minimum wage increases."
"Our members will be standing strong on the picket lines until they get a fair offer from the company."
BCGEU represents around 675 staff spread across Gateway's four casinos in the Okanagan: Playtime Casino in Kelowna, Lake City Casino in Vernon, and Cascades Casinos in Kamloops and Penticton. BCGEU members work in table games, as slot attendants, cashiers, in the count room, kitchen, security, guest services and maintenance.
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