January 28, 2016

BCGEU Signs on to Petition to Free Chinese Labour Activists

On Thursday, January 28, the BCGEU signed on to a petition calling for the release of Chinese labour activists who were detained by the government.

Advanced by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the petition has now been signed by over 175 organizations.

Petition Text
At least four labour activists remain in criminal detention following a recent crackdown on labour organisations. From 3 - 5 December, labour NGOs based in Guangdong province were targeted in a harsh and unexpected wave of detentions. At least four labour NGOs have been targeted and 25 NGO staff and volunteers have been detained and questioned by police, seven of whom either remain in detention or cannot be contacted. These include Panyu Workers’ Centre director Zeng Feiyang and staff member Zhu Xiaomei; Foshan Nanfeiyan Social Work Services Organization director He Xiaobo; labour activists Peng Jiayong, Deng Xiaoming, Meng Han, and Tang Jian. Four individuals - Zeng Feiyang, He Xiaobo, Zhu Xiaomei and Deng Xiaoming - are confirmed as being in detention.

The Chinese government purports to advance the “rule of law” within its borders and promotes the idea of a civilized and peaceful rise internationally. However, local governments abuse their power, using violence and arrests to repress and intimidate labour organizations, preventing Chinese workers from pursuing fundamental labour rights, including freedom of association and the right to strike and collective bargaining.

As organisations and individuals working labour rights, we call on the Chinese government to:
  1. Immediately release all the aforementioned detained labour activists
  2. Stop suppressing labour activists, labour organisations and civil society organisations.
  3. Respect and protect the development and freedom of civil society as prescribed by China’s Constitution.
Initiated by
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions
Globalization Monitor

January 28, 2016

Liberal government right to repeal anti-union Bill-377

The BCGEU is welcoming news the federal government has introduced legislation to reverse anti-union laws introduced by the Stephen Harper government last year. In the House of Commons today, the Liberals introduced legislation that would reverse changes to laws under Bill-377, which placed vastly expanded requirements on unions to disclose how members’ dues are spent.

“This legislation had nothing to do with financial transparency, and was designed to create an onerous regime that wasted union resources and significantly violated privacy legislation,” said BCGEU treasurer Paul Finch. “These Conservative laws were a clear attack on the rights of working people, and designed to make it more difficult for unions to organize workers and represent the members in their unions.”

Under Bill-377 unions are required to disclose any spending of $5,000 or more, in addition to other expenditures. The Canada Revenue Agency publicly posts the information on its website. Salaries, disability payments and medical expenses – along with names of individuals who received them - have the potential to be disclosed to the public. An infringement on privacy, it also provides detailed information on the activities of unions that could be used to the advantage of anti-labour groups or employers.

Bill-377 was opposed by unions from coast to coast, the Canadian Bar Association, and seven provincial governments.

“At the BCGEU, we pride ourselves on our financial transparency to members. We publish our audited financial statements every year in The Provincial magazine. As well, they are on our website,” said Finch. “It would be wrong and undemocratic if the unelected Conservative Senators used their majority to block passage of the legislation introduced today by the Liberals.”

Today’s legislation would also make changes to the Conservatives Bill-525 which made it more difficult for unions to organize in federally regulated workplaces.

For more information: Evan Stewart BCGEU Communications 604-291-9611.

January 25, 2016

BCGEU’s Occupational Health and Safety Networkers

The creation of the OHS Networking team comes from the BCGEU 2014 convention. Convention delegates were loud and clear with their OHS resolutions: they wanted an expansion in the OHS department. They wanted BCGEU OHS activists to play a larger role, and to see the creation of an OHS Task Force. The OHS Task Force, released their report in April of 2015, with strong and practical recommendations. The top three recommendations included changes to communications, committee appointments, and OHS education.

Sixteen trained OHS facilitators from across the province were appointed by the president. On January 20, they met at BCGEU headquarters to discuss their role, time frames, challenges and how best to approach the work in each area of the province.

This year our OHS networkers will be:

  1. Auditing OHS committees and assisting with the growth of these committees
  2. Working with locals on the OHS appointments 
  3. Scheduling OHS courses in consultation with the OHS department and contacting members to increase participation
  4. Using data analysis and networking to Identify non-compliant employers and  ensure there are OHS committees  or worker representatives in place 
  5. Acting as a resource to OHS committees, components, locals and area offices

If you require the assistance of an OHS network member in your area, please contact your area office or the BCGEU Occupational Health and Safety Department for more information. The OHS department can be contacted at OHS@bcgeu.ca  or by phone at 604-291-9611 or 1-800-663-1674.


January 22, 2016

UNITE HERE! Local 40 Hilton Metrotown and Coast Hotels Bargaining Update

A message from Unite Here! Local 40

Thanks to all of you from BCFED Staff, CUPE, FPSE, GEU, HEU, HSA, MoveUp, TWU/SWA and Unifor who came out to support our members at the Hilton Metrotown on January 20. Management took notice of your support.

Many of you have asked for updates on the status of bargaining at both the Hilton and with Coast Hotels in Kelowna, Victoria, Nanaimo and Prince George. At the Hilton Metrotown, bargaining is currently at a cross roads. Management is struggling with economics while demanding concessions to increase the workload of Room Attendants. Negotiations are scheduled for next Friday, January 29th. At the Coast Capri, Harbourside, Bastion and Inn of the North, we have overcome demands for minimum wage for new tipped workers and a separate & inferior economic package for workers in Kelowna, but we are still dealing with the lack of retroactivity and demands to reduce hours of work, lower new hire rates and increasing workload for Room Attendants. Bargaining is scheduled for next Thursday, January 28th.

You can help by sending letters to management, and expressing your support for the staff and your concerns as customers of the Hilton and these Coast Hotels. We want to increase the pressure to settle these contracts now. We are not asking anyone to pull business from any of these hotels at this time.

Hilton Metrotown Letters
Ed Jaskula, General Manager Hilton Metrotown, 6083 McKay Avenue, Burnaby, BC V5H 2W7 ed.jaskula@interstatehotels.com Fax: 604-438-1271

Coast Hotels Letters
Jim Douglas, Regional General Manager Coast Harbourside, 146 Kingston Street, Victoria, BC V8Y 1V4   j.douglas@coasthotels.com Fax: 250-360-1418

Please cc: Robert Demand, President, UNITE HERE! Local 40: 100-4180 Lougheed Hwy, Burnaby, BC V5C 6A7   rdemand@unitehere.org

Thank you for your ongoing support and we will keep all of you updated on our efforts to resolve these negotiations. Click here for Unite Here! Local 40's website.




January 21, 2016

Statement on First Nations Supreme Court ruling

The BCGEU enthusiastically supports the January 13 B.C. Supreme Court decision in favour of the Gitga’at First Nation and Coastal First Nations. This decision ruled that the B.C. government has completely failed in its duty to consult with First Nations on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project.
The court said it was not “reasonable or correct” for the province to sign over the environmental assessment approval to the federal government, ruling the equivalency agreement “invalid” and that the project cannot go forward until the B.C. government issues an environmental assessment certificate.

“The BCGEU is a steadfast supporter of First Nations' rights in the Fraser River basin and across Canada,” says BCGEU Treasurer Paul Finch. “Governments have a legal and moral responsibility to engage in meaningful consultations with First Nations peoples, to gain their support before these projects can proceed. So far, the B.C. government  has spectacularly failed in this responsibility.”

The BCGEU is a proud supporter of the Save the Fraser declaration, an historic indigenous law banning oil sands pipelines and tankers in the Fraser River watershed. The union will engage in a signing ceremony for the ground-breaking declaration on February 4.

“This is a huge victory that affirms the provincial government’s duty to consult with and accommodate First Nations and to exercise its decision-making power on major pipeline projects,” said Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga’at First Nation.

“It means the province must now sit down with First Nations communities across B.C. and find ways to address the severe and irreversible impacts of this project,” says Marilyn Slett, President of the Coastal First Nations.

January 20, 2016

OHS Training in Kelowna Area

To all Labour Code OHS Committee Members in the Kelowna Area

"Joint OHS Committee Training" will be held on Wednesday, February 24 and "Incident Investigations" will be held on Thursday, February 25. These courses will be held at the BCGEU office at 1064 Borden Ave, Kelowna from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

In the Joint OHS Committee Training course you will learn:

  • Worker OHS rights, including the refusal of unsafe work procedure
  • OHS legislation
  • Roles and responsibilities of employers, workers, supervisors and committees
  • Hazard identification and control measures
  • How to conduct effective workplace inspections and incident investigations
  • Resources available to the committee

In the Incident Investigations you will learn:

  • The legislative requirements for conducting accident/incident investigations
  • How to get to the contributing factors by conducting effective witness interviews and examining physical evidence
  • How to assess the evidence in order to recommend effective corrective measures

These courses are limited to 22 seats so register early at area07@bcgeu.ca to avoid disappointment.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to improve your ability to advocate for workers' health and safety rights - register today.

Note: If you have not taken your annual education leave, as mandated by the Workers' Compensation Act and your Collective Agreement - apply for this employer paid leave through your employer.

January 20, 2016

OHS Committee Training in Vancouver

To all Direct Government OHS Committee Members in the Lower Mainland

"Ergonomics" will be held on Tueday, February 16 and "Joint OHS Committee Course" will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb 23-24. These courses will be held at the BCGEU office at #130-2920 Virtual Way, Vancouver from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

In the Ergonomics course you will learn:

  • Requirements of the ergonomics regulation
  • How to identify ergonomic hazards, to assess the risk factors of tasks and to recommend appropriate solutions
  • Strategies for implementing an effective workplace ergonomics program
  • How to conduct a workstation assessment

In the Joint OHS Committee Course you will learn:

  • Worker OHS rights, including the refusal of unsafe work procedure
  • OHS legislation
  • Roles and responsibilities of employers, workers, supervisors and committees
  • Hazard identification and control measures
  • How to conduct effective workplace inspections and incident investigations
  • Resources available to the committee

These courses are limited to 22 seats so register early at https://gww.gov.bc.ca/ to avoid disappointment.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to improve your ability to advocate for workers' health and safety rights - register today.

Note: If you have not taken your annual education leave, as mandated by the Workers' Compensation Act and your Collective Agreement - apply for this employer paid leave through your employer.


January 14, 2016

Just Film Festival coming up in February

The Just Film Festival features social justice and environmental documentaries that go to the heart of issues confronting communities here and around the planet. The focus of the festival is to motivate audiences to action by spotlighting issues both local and global. It will also include a Social Justice Bazaar, on Saturday February 13th.

Visit the festival website for more information about tickets and the films to be shown: Just Film Festival

January 08, 2016

BCGEU opposes renters’ dispute fee hike imposed by B.C. Government

The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) is speaking out against a fee increase to rental tenants seeking a dispute resolution through the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB).

The new fee took effect on Jan. 1.

A renter filing a dispute resolution application with the RTB will now have to pay $100. That’s up from $50. An appeal review will now cost $50, up from $25.

“British Columbians are being forced to rent because they have no way of getting into the red hot real estate market,” said BCGEU treasurer Paul Finch. “Low income people cannot absorb a fee hike this extreme, thereby denying them any recourse when landlords violate the residential tenancy act.”

The BCGEU represents B.C. government employees who work for the RTB. Members in government jobs have told the union their efforts to serve the public in a timely and effective manner are obstructed by chronic understaffing in their offices.

“Resources are inadequate in these offices, but renters shouldn’t have to foot the bill to fix the system. There has to be another way that doesn’t deny low income renters access to dispute resolution,” said Maria Middlemiss, second vice-president of the BCGEU’s administrative services component.

“How is this fair to renters? Especially in light of this week’s boost in the homeowners grant threshold, ensuring people with homes worth up to $1.2 million get a break in property taxes,” said Finch.