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NEWS

February 14, 2020

Wet’suwet’en protests at worksites – information for members - BCGEU

Over the last week we have seen protests in support of the Wet'suwet'en people take place around the province, across the country, and around the world. These protests continue to escalate around the province.

While we support the rights of protest guaranteed by the Charter, we are not affiliated with these protests. The safety and well-being of our members is of paramount importance.

Here's what you need to know if you encounter a protest at your worksite 

  • Under their collective agreement and the Charter, members have the right not to cross a picket line. 
  • Members have the right to refuse unsafe work. If you have any concerns about this, please contact your steward or area office.
  • Members should not confront protestors or place themselves at any risk.
  • Members who encounter picket lines at their worksite should immediately contact their steward or area office for accurate information about how to proceed.
  • Should picket lines go up, your union will not likely be in a position to determine their legality at that time. However, picket lines should be assumed to be legal unless we are informed otherwise.
  • The BCGEU Provincial Executive has approved picket pay for members who are unable to attend work due to a picket line at their worksite if they are not paid by their employer. 
  • In the event that you are unable to work due to protests at your worksite and are not being paid by your employer for missed hours, please complete this online form to apply for picket pay: https://my.bcgeu.ca/picket

I want to thank all of you who have contacted me, Paul or any other BCGEU member to seek advice. It's critical that members are fully informed when deciding how to act and react during these protests and your union is here to help!

In solidarity,

Stephanie Smith
President 



UWU/MoveUP

February 09, 2020

BCGEU statement on Wet’suwet’en events - February 9 - BCGEU

The BCGEU continues to call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict on Wet’suwet’en territory.

As a trade union committed to supporting the full implementation of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the recommendations of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the BCGEU is deeply troubled by the current and ongoing events on Wet’suwet’en territory including the use of exclusion zones, forceful removal of land defenders, and threats to journalists.

Further escalations threaten to unravel progress towards reconciliation. We urge the RCMP to withdraw and ask for all parties to resume talks to reach a negotiated settlement.

February 05, 2020

Independent advocate re-affirms our union's call to bring seniors’ care back ...

This week B.C.'s independent Office of the Seniors Advocate (OSA) published the first ever provincial review of the $1.4 billion-dollar contracted long-term care sector in British Columbia, A Billion Reasons to Care.

Overall, the OSA confirms what our union has been saying for years: the contracted long-term care sector lacks accountability and transparency in funding and monitoring and fails to meet the needs of seniors and their families.

In the report, the OSA also outlines how the system got to its current state. Prior to 1999 only 23 per cent of beds in long-term care were operated by for-profit companies. The rest were operated by non-profit societies and health authorities. In the two decades that followed, the sector shifted significantly towards the for-profit model due largely to legislation enacted by the BC Liberals. The previous government's legislation led to the deterioration of working conditions for health and social-sector workers by stripping workplace protections and rights and enabling contract-flipping which created a race to the bottom in terms of wages. Fortunately the BC NDP repealed these laws in late 2018, but the damage will take years to undo and leaves us where we are today – with staffing crises and care facilities under health authority administration as we have seen in Comox, Nanaimo and Victoria.

Among the report's specific findings:

  • for-profit operations generate millions in profits but fall short on the number of direct care hours they are funded to deliver, to the tune of 207,000 hours over a two-year period.
  • staff in the for-profit system are underpaid by as much as 28 per cent or $6.63 less per hour than the industry standard. 

The OSA makes five recommendations to address the problems it identifies:

  1. Funding for direct care must be spent on direct care.
  2. Monitoring for compliance with funded care hours must be more accurate.
  3. Contract agencies must clearly define their profit in their reporting.
  4. Standardize reporting for all care homes throughout B.C.
  5. Revenues and expenditures for publicly funded care homes should be available to the public.

Our union commends the OSA for providing this critical and long-overdue insight into the contract long-term care system and supports all five recommendations. However, while these measures would certainly bring improvement to a sector so lacking in regulation, we believe our province must go further to remove the profit motive from seniors' care altogether.

It's time to restore seniors' care in B.C. by putting people before profits and bringing the sector back under government as a public service. Only then will we have a long-term solution that supports our dedicated workforce with good wages and benefits to deliver the standard of care B.C.'s seniors deserve.

The BCGEU represents over 8,000 members in seniors care with 3,000 working in residential care facilities.

Read the report here: https://www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca/app/uploads/sites/4/2020/02/ABillionReasonsToCare.pdf



UWU/MoveUP

February 04, 2020

Kelowna Area Office Closure – Feb 4 - BCGEU

Due to inclement weather, the Kelowna Area Office has closed for the remainder of Tuesday, February 4. The office plans to reopen, February 5, at 8:30am.

If you are a BCGEU member in the Okanagan (Area 07) and need emergency support at your worksite, please contact your union steward.

Facilities related emergencies at the site can be directed to Ryan Schmid at 778-870-7877.



UWU/MoveUP

January 20, 2020

BCGEU Office Closures – Jan 20th - BCGEU

Due to inclement weather, the Terrace Area office will be closed on Monday, January 20.

The office plans to reopen Tuesday, January 21, at 8:30am.

If you are a BCGEU member in area 12 and need emergency support at your worksite, please contact your union steward.

Facilities related emergencies in Terrace can be directed to Ryan Schmid at 778-870-7877.

January 17, 2020

New Prince Rupert labour history walking tour available - BCGEU

The BC Labour Heritage Centre is pleased to inform BCGEU members that a new Prince Rupert Labour History Walking Tour has recently been added to our BC Labour History Walking Tours mobile app. 

This tour explores over a century of union organizing, struggles and victories for fishermen, shoreworkers, longshore, the IWW, the Battle of Kelly's Cut, civic politics and colourful labour characters on the North Coast. 

The app is only available for download in Canada and is completely free. Visit the Google Play or Apple Store. Once you have installed the app on your smartphone or tablet, you will need to download a route in order to view it - we encourage doing this on Wi-Fi before you leave home to avoid mobile data usage. You can also explore content from the comfort of your own home.

Click here to learn more about the BC Labour Heritage Centre's walking tours.



UWU/MoveUP

January 16, 2020

ICBC fleet-insured vehicles policy change - BCGEU

ICBC agrees to change potentially devastating policy on personal insurance impacts of accidents in fleet-insured vehicles

In Fall 2019, ICBC announced a policy change that would have meant that commercial drivers found at fault for accidents in work vehicles would potentially pay more for their personal insurance.

"Our union immediately understood that the original policy was completely unfair and would have potentially devastating impacts on BCGEU members and tens of thousands of other working British Columbians who operate vehicles as part of their job," said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU. "We raised those concerns with the BC Public Service Agency and were impressed with their willingness to work with us to protect our members' interests."

As a result of the efforts of the BCGEU and other advocates inside and outside B.C.'s labour movement, ICBC changed the policy: at-fault crashes in a fleet vehicle have no impact on the driver's personal policy or any other policies where they're listed as a driver. The employer has also confirmed that at-fault crashes while driving B.C. government fleet vehicles will not impact an individual's private insurance rates.

"The BCGEU understands and supports the ongoing work to put ICBC on solid footing," said Smith. "Given that context, we are extremely pleased with ICBC's decision to protect workers by changing this policy. And, on behalf of every BCGEU member who would have born the brunt of the original policy, I'm extremely grateful to the BCGEU members and staff who did the legwork to get this done."

Read more about the changes here.

In solidarity,

 

Stephanie Smith
President

Mike Eso
Staff Representative

 



UWU/MoveUP

December 19, 2019

Winter maintenance and public safety a top priority for BCGEU highway workers...

On behalf of members employed by Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance Inc., the BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) is calling on the company to ensure they meet the highway maintenance standards agreed to in their 10-year contract with the provincial government. This follows an incident last week in Cherryville B.C. where a school bus became stuck in a ditch due to snowy road conditions.

"Highway maintenance employees are some of the most conscientious people that care for the safety of all stakeholders on B.C. highways," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "They have done so for decades and will continue to do their best with the tools they are given."

In 2017 a landmark successorship agreement was reached to ensure the retention of over 2,000 experienced workers to maintain roads and bridges throughout British Columbia. When Acciona was awarded two new maintenance contracts in the Okanagan earlier this spring, they were required to honour the labour agreements already bargained with existing workers. This ensured that their staff had decades of experience and knowledge of what it takes to keep roads safe in their region.

"When an incident or accident occurs, it's emotional for all of us working on B.C. roads," says BCGEU operational services component vice president Rory Smith. "Our members continue to strive to provide their expertise and identify opportunities for continuous improvement."

Moving forward, the union will continue to work with members to ensure they are treated with respect by their employer and will be monitoring the situation in the Okanagan.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure also has staff monitoring standards in each of the 28 service areas in B.C.'s highway maintenance system, and many times they are working through a storm event to monitor the level of performance of the contractor. In follow up to the concerns in Cherryville, the Ministry has advised that they are meeting with Acciona and the local school district.

The BCGEU encourages all travellers to drive safely as they head out on the roads this holiday season and that motorists ensure they have good winter tires, adjust their speed to conditions and check DriveBC before they head out.

The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in B.C. representing 80,000 members. The operational services component represents 2,200 private sector highway workers and over 120 members employed at Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance Inc.

For more information contact: Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications, at [email protected]



UWU/MoveUP

December 18, 2019

Grand Forks childcare professionals launch one-day strike - BCGEU

WHAT: After issuing a 72-hour strike notice on Friday of last week, 14 members of the BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) employed by Sunshine Valley Child Care are set to strike for one day on Thursday December 19, 2019. The move comes after several months of unsuccessful negotiations for a new collective agreement that will address long-standing issues with substandard wages, a lack of benefits and significant issues with recruitment and retention.

"Our members' goal is to deliver quality, professional child care to the children and families of Grand Forks, but too many years of low pay and no health & welfare benefits have led them to a crisis point," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "They are fighting for a contract that compensates them fairly as qualified, trained professionals, and in turn, ensures the ongoing viability of the childcare facility in order to meet the community's needs for years to come."

WHEN: Thursday, December 19th, 2019 at 7:30am

WHERE: Sunshine Valley Child Care Society – Grand Forks, B.C.

CONTACT: Bronwen Barnett, BCGEU Communications | e: [email protected]

UWU/MoveUP