December 06, 2018

Review suggests no reason to discipline guards in death of prisoner, union sa...

The vice-president of the union that represents B.C. prison guards says his members followed policy the day an inmate died in the back of a corrections van.

Dean Purdy of the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union said in a memo to his members that a government review has already determined that "no discipline is required" in the death of Alex Joseph.





December 05, 2018

BCGEU applauds bold, inclusive plan for emissions reduction and clean growth ...

The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) applauds the B.C. government's release today of CleanBC which outlines plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent compared to 2007 levels by 2030.

Through a sector-by-sector approach focusing on transportation, buildings and industry, government seeks to work collaboratively with stakeholders to foster economic growth and create new job opportunities as the province reduces its emissions. This includes working with the BC Green Party and the Business Council of British Columbia, representing a truly bipartisan approach across different groups and communities.

"Government has presented a bold, ambitious plan that marks a significant step towards a green economy," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "Through consultations with environmental groups, businesses, Indigenous groups, and communities, the CleanBC plan takes the kind of collaborative approach that we will need to make progress on our climate targets."

The overall design of CleanBC aims to ensure that no one is left behind. This includes introducing programs to help British Columbians reduce their energy costs, afford cleaner vehicles and access training and re-training for the jobs of the future – particularly in the trades and the construction industry. As British Columbians continue to deal with the impacts of climate change such as the wildfires that have grown in intensity, the plan aims to ensure B.C. communities are safe and economically resilient. Finally, the plan includes meaningful collaboration with Indigenous peoples through programs that will support self-sufficiency.

While reducing B.C.'s emissions will indeed require investment, government has been financially prudent in their planning. CleanBC is fully funded with program specific details forthcoming in the 2019/2020 Budget.

In the coming days, the BCGEU will conduct an in-depth review of government's CleanBC plan, particularly to examine plans relative to environmental resolutions passed at the union's 2017 constitutional convention, as well as recommendations put forward by the BCGEU's environment committee.


November 29, 2018

Stand with postal workers this Saturday in support of labour rights - BCGEU

The protected rights of all unionized workers in Canada are being challenged right now in the Canadian Union of Postal Workers' (CUPW) current struggle to achieve a collective agreement. Canada Post workers have taken action over health and safety issues, exhaustive and unsustainable workload issues, and inequities between urban and rural mail carriers. 

Entering their second month of rotating strikes, the federal government ignored postal workers' fundamental right to free collective bargaining and the right to strike, and legislated these workers back to work late Monday night. This is unacceptable and we condemn the unconstitutionality of the federal government's back to work legislation. It's an attack on the protected rights of all unionized workers in Canada to withdraw their labour in support of achieving a collective agreement.
In solidarity, the BCGEU has offered a $3 million interest-free loan to support the CUPW's struggle to achieve a collective agreement. A national day of action is also being held this Saturday December 1st to stand with postal workers across Canada, and to call on the federal government to overturn this unconstitutional law.
This legislation hurts all of us and we must stand collectively against it. If you are in Vancouver, Victoria or Prince George, we hope you can join us. Find more details here on an event in your area.
In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith




November 29, 2018

The BCGEU congratulates Cronk and Skidmore on election to lead BC Fed - BCGEU

VANCOUVER – The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) congratulates Laird Cronk and Sussanne Skidmore on their election today as the new president and secretary-treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour (BC Fed) at the federation's 58th convention.

Cronk and Skidmore bring extensive experience from both the private and public sectors of the labour movement to their roles. And as a representative of the public service, Skidmore's leadership will emphasize the need to strengthen B.C.'s public service at a time when the provincial government is already making strides in this direction. The pair have also committed to leading a unified labour movement by turning the page on past divisions.

"Two deeply committed labour activists with complementary experience, Laird and Sussanne will make a truly excellent team," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "This news is bitter-sweet for the BCGEU family as Sussanne moves on from her position as one of our union's executive vice presidents, but we wish her every success and look forward to Laird and Sussanne's leadership in advancing the labour movement in B.C." 

A BCGEU member for more than 20 years, Skidmore has served in nearly every elected position in her union local, from steward to executive, and has been a BCGEU executive vice president since 2014. A well-known social justice activist and labour leader, Skidmore has served as a member of the equity and human rights committee and the BCGEU women's committee where she has been a voice for fairness and equality within the labour movement. She has also sat on both the provincial public service bargaining and component bargaining committees. 

"It's with much gratitude to the BCGEU for the opportunities and experiences I have gained that I look forward to the new challenges ahead in my role at the BC Fed," says outgoing BCGEU executive vice president and secretary-treasurer-elect of the BC Federation of Labour, Sussanne Skidmore. 

As the largest affiliate union of the BC Fed, members and staff of the BCGEU thank both Irene Lanzinger and Aaron Ekman for their dedication to making life better for all working people in British Columbia during their time leading the federation. Ekman was elected secretary-treasurer in 2014 and Lanzinger was first elected secretary-treasurer in 2010 and then president in 2014.

"As the first woman president of the BC Fed, Irene redefined what is possible for all women leaders in B.C.'s labour movement," says Smith. 

The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in B.C. with over 77,000 members and is an affiliate of the BC Federation of Labour, which represents over 500,000 members from unions across the province. 

For more information contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications, 604-719-4713


November 28, 2018

BCGEU offers multi-million dollar loan to CUPW - BCGEU

The leadership of the BCGEU has approved a $3-million interest-free loan for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to call on if needed to support their ongoing struggle to achieve a collective agreement. Thousands of postal workers were ordered back to work earlier this week following more than a month of rotating strikes.

"We condemn the unconstitutionality of the federal government's back to work legislation," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "It's an attack on the protected rights of all unionized workers in Canada to withdraw their labour in support of achieving a collective agreement. This legislation hurts all of us and we will stand collectively against it."

The BCGEU has 77,000 members in B.C. We are a component of NUPGE, the National Union of Public and General Employees.


November 23, 2018

Submission to provincial Legal Aid Services Review - BCGEU

A robust public legal aid program is essential for realising the fundamental right to justice for all British Columbians, and the BCGEU has long advocated for improvements to the province's legal aid services. The B.C. government is currently conducting an independent review of B.C.'s legal aid service delivery system, and your union has made a submission to this process.

In this submission we call on government to rebuild and revitalize the delivery of high-quality legal aid services by taking actions in the following key areas:

  1. Re-establishing LSS offices across B.C.
  2. Opening specialized legal clinics.
  3. Building a foundation of in-house staff lawyers.
  4. Increasing human resources.

The guiding objective for reorganizing and improving legal aid delivery should be the protection and reinforcement of a rights-based system of representation for those who need assistance. This means legal aid should be available whenever human dignity is at stake.

It is expected that government will report out on the review's results by Spring 2019.

Read the full submission


November 23, 2018

New resources for Residential Tenancy Branch a good first step - BCGEU

Union sees need to enhance online resources with added walk-in service

The recent announcement by the B.C. government of improved staffing and service levels at the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) is a welcome improvement and a good first step, but should not completely replace walk-in services, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union said today.

The B.C. government reported that at least 25 new staff were hired and additional online resources were put in place – resulting in wait times for urgent applications being processed 47 per cent faster, applications requesting money were processed 44 per cent faster, and wait times to speak to an information officer is down 84 percent since additional funding was approved in September 2017.

"We are heartened to see that wait times for service at the RTB have improved with the addition of new staff and online resources," said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "The addition of a compliance and enforcement director, along with new information services and dispute resolution staff is a welcome and needed improvement to the agency."

"We're also happy to see that the online portal is operating more quickly and providing a streamlined process for applicants. But we must also point out that resources need to be expanded for walk-in services at local RTB branches, for people with limited access and knowledge to navigate the web portal."

Currently, the Burnaby Residential Tenancy Branch location is the only office in the province where people can walk-in to obtain service. Elderly residents and people with limited understanding of computer and internet services currently have few options to file applications under the Residential Tenancy Act.

 The BCGEU has been actively involved in our Affordable BC campaign, which includes:



November 13, 2018

Casino workers go back to work after achieving wage increases, improved benef...


November 9, 2018

Casino workers go back to work after achieving wage increases, improved benefits 

(Thompson-Okanagan) Nearly 700 members of the BCGEU working in Gateway Casinos in the Thompson-Okanagan voted to ratify a new contract with their employer ending a 19-week strike.

"I am so impressed by the solidarity and courage of our members" said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU. "They should be proud of what they achieved by sticking together throughout the bargaining process, especially over the past 19 weeks on the picket line."

The four-year deal includes an average 23.5% wage increase over the life of the agreement and improved benefits – particularly for part-time workers.

"Our members are going back to work, which is great news," Smith continued. "But the ratification vote was close, which means there is more work to be done in all four of these workplaces. That work starts as soon as the picket lines come down."

Casino workers will begin heading back to work over the weekend as operations resume to pre-strike levels.

"On behalf of our members I want to thank our friends in the communities of Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon and our friends in the labour movement for their support during the strike," said Smith. 

BCGEU represents staff spread across Gateway's four casinos in the Thompson-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.




November 08, 2018

BCGEU welcomes new legislation aimed at improving working conditions for heal...

The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) welcomes the B.C. government's announcement today that it will repeal both the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act (Bill 29) and the Health Sector Partnerships Agreement Act (Bill 94). Enacted in 2002 and 2003, the bills led to the deterioration of working conditions for health and social-sector workers by stripping workplace protections and rights and enabling contract-flipping in the sector. The repeal of the bills will mark a positive step towards restoring working conditions and improving health care delivery to British Columbians – especially seniors and people with disabilities. 

"For the last 16 years those working in health-care settings throughout the province, many of whom are women, immigrants and visible minorities, have experienced significant instability and an erosion of working conditions as a result of these bills," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "The BCGEU has long pushed for change in the health services and community social services sectors, and to end the practice of contract-flipping in particular. Today's announcement demonstrates a concrete effort on the part of government to address these issues." 

The practice of contract-flipping typically involves mass layoffs and forces workers to re-apply for jobs that they have, in many cases, already been performing for years. When this occurs, existing collective agreements and union representation are not carried over, and contracts offered by the new service provider typically offer lower wages, reduced benefits and weakened rights for employees. In short, contract flipping is a strategy for suppressing wages and weakening employee rights in the workplace.

In B.C., contract flipping has been most prevalent in contracted healthcare, residential care, community social services, building maintenance and food services. This process has been harmful for workers in these sectors and the patients and clients that depend on them. 

The government has stated its intention to work collaboratively with various stakeholders to implement the repeal of these bills. The BCGEU looks forward to engaging in this process to support, and significantly improve conditions for workers affected by these changes. 

The BCGEU represents over 30,000 workers in the health services and community social services sectors. 

For more information please contact Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications, 604-719-4713