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September 04, 2016

Celebrating Labour Day 2016

As long, sunny days shorten and cooler weather begins , Labour Day offers us time to reflect on the summer that is drawing to a close. For those of us in the labour movement it’s also a time to reflect on the state of working people in our union community.

Looking back on the last year, it’s amazing to see the progress BCGEU members have made since last year’s celebrations. 

We’ve grown tremendously. Over 1,800 workers voted to join our union, bringing our membership to over 70,000!

We’ve stood up for what we believe in. Members in highways, corrections, retail liquor stores, and home support have stood up and spoken to community members, media, and municipal councils about issues important to our communities and our jobs.

We’ve developed our skills in the workplace. New initiatives to allow stewards to better communicate with their co-workers, coupled with education fairs and enhanced steward trainings, have empowered more and more of you to step up and become leaders at work. 

Seeing our growth and speaking with so many of you in my travels makes me so excited for the future of our union. It’s inspiring to see the many ways in which you are stepping up at your workplaces and in your communities.

Labour Day isn’t just for celebrating our strength as a union, it’s also for celebrating the importance of the work that each and every BCGEU member does.

Your union represents workers in almost every sector you can imagine.  Today, let's all remember that your work is an important part B.C.’s economy and this is a day for you.

I hope that you have a chance to spend time with friends or family today and join BCGEU members across the province in recognizing the importance of our work striving for dignity and respect for all workers in B.C.

- Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president

Click here for a list of Labour Day events in British Columbia

August 18, 2016

Public Service Pension Plan - Fall 2016 Member Seminars

An update from the BC Pension Corporation:

The fall schedule for the Public Service Pension Plan free member seminars is now posted on the website with seminars offered across BC.



Your Pension, Your Future
It is important for new and mid-career employees to know how decisions made today can affect your retirement pension in the years to come. In this seminar, Your Pension, Your Future, we discuss the details of your pension, including:

  • Your pension’s value and its many benefits
  • How to maximize your pension through purchase of service and transfer of service if those opportunities apply to you
  • The way life events, such as marital separation or raising children, can affect your pension
  • Tools to assist you when making important decisions about your pension

Thinking About Retiring
If you are within five years of retirement, this seminar will help you plan and prepare for your retirement, we cover the key pension considerations, including:

  • How your pension works
  • How to choose your best pension option
  • The group health and dental benefits available for retirees
  • How to navigate the retirement process
  • Tools to assist them when making important decisions about your pension


Registering for a seminar


Registration is easy. You can register for Your Pension, Your Future or Thinking About Retiring through My Account on the plan website.

Please note

  • Seminars run until mid-December 2016. You should check the website for schedule updates.
  • Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Attendees, including those receiving long-term disability benefits, are welcome to bring their spouse or a guest.
  • Attendees are responsible for their own travel and associated costs.




  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: Phone 250 356-2199 (Victoria) or 1 877 558-5572 (toll-free in BC)

Thank you,
Client Education Program | Pension Corporation

August 16, 2016

OH&S Committee Changes

Improving the Effectiveness of Occupational Health and Safety Committees

Public hearings have been scheduled by Worksafe BC on proposed regulatory changes, including proposed changes to joint health and safety committees.

New sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation related to joint committees are:

  • 3.26, Rights and Responsibilities, evaluation for joint committees
  • 3.27, Rights and Responsibilities, minimum training requirements for new joint committee members and worker health and safety representatives
  • 3.28, Rights and Responsibilities, participation by employer or representative of employer and worker representative in employer investigations

WorkSafeBC Regulatory Practices has prepared a draft Joint Health and Safety Committee Evaluation Tool, for stakeholders to provide their written comments. The draft evaluation tool, and information on how to provide feedback, can be accessed through this link.


Public Hearing Details

September 21, 2016
Coast Victoria Harbourside Hotel & Marina
146 Kingston Street, Victoria, B.C.

September 27, 2016
Best Western Hotel
2402 Highway 97 N, Kelowna, B.C.

September 27, 2016
Via video conference - Community Futures
110A Slater Road NW, Cranbrook, B.C.

October 4, 2016
Ramada Prince George
444 George Street, Prince George, B.C.

October 6, 2016
Executive Airport Plaza Hotel & Conference Centre
7311 Westminster Highway, Richmond, B.C.

Session Times:
3 to 5 p.m.
7 to 9 p.m.


The issues being discussed at the public hearings are very important to the BCGEU. In particular the new sections proposed for joint committee training, evaluation and participation in investigations. Your OHS Officers have been actively involved in the public consultation phase of the proposed regulatory changes, and have been advocating for language that will benefit our members.

We will ensure that we have a strong presence from the BCGEU leadership at these public hearings to see that we achieve the best language in the regulation for joint committees, worker representatives, and worker participation. You also have the right to speak to all of the proposed changes as a worker in British Columbia.

For more information, visit the Worker Compensation Board’s website:


If you have any feedback or questions about our position on the proposed regulation, contact your OHS Officers at 604-291-9611 or by emailing us at [email protected]


Download PDF of notice here



August 05, 2016

Forensic Psychiatric Hospital Members - Refuse Unsafe Work

BCGEU members that work at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam continue to face unacceptable levels of violence and risk of serious injury. Our members were directed by the employer to release patients from seclusion rooms in spite of contrary advice by the care team. The patients were secluded due to incidents of violence against other patients and workers. They were still exhibiting aggressive behaviours at the time of the direction to release.

Immediately following release, these patients were involved in a violent incident which put our members at risk of serious injury. This employer has repeatedly displayed an unwillingness to hear the worker’s voices and to recognize that their opinions and concerns have merit. Front line workers know the patients and their tendencies better than an employer that rarely comes onto the floor.

Forensic Psychiatric Hospital falls under the mandate of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). The PHSA is responsible for thirteen organizations and the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital has an obviously poor record when it comes to violent incidents. In a recent annual review, the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital accounted for almost 55% of lost time compensation due to violence - $123,879.50 out of a total of $226,881.18. Days lost to violent incidents for the thirteen organizations totalled 1297 with Forensic Psychiatric Hospital accounting for 837 of those lost days – 64.5%.

We want to remind our members of their right to refuse unsafe work – a right that is protected by the law in British Columbia.

  • Step 1 - If you have reasonable cause to believe that carrying out a work process will create an undue hazard to the health and safety of any person, do not carry out the work and report this to your supervisor. The supervisor’s responsibility is to investigate your concern and to eliminate the hazard. If the supervisor doesn’t eliminate the hazard and/or disagrees there is a safety issue, go to
  • Step 2 - report the issue to an OHS worker representative of your choice. The OHS worker representative assesses the situation and if the issue is still unresolved, go to
  • Step 3 – you and the supervisor must call WCB and report your refusal of unsafe work. A WCB officer must then investigate the issue without undue delay and make a decision.

Only when the WCB officer deems it safe to proceed with the work should you carry out the work.

Keep your OHS worker representative, steward, staff representative or BCGEU OHS officers apprised of the situation so that you can receive the support you need. Under the law in BC, you must not face any discriminatory action for invoking your right to refuse unsafe work. Discriminatory action can include demotion, loss of wages or work, intimidation or discipline.

Click here to access a “refusal of unsafe work” pocket card (Print double-sided and cut to pocket size) and a link to the WCB website. Call us at 604-291-9611 or [email protected] if you have any questions.

Sherry Ogasawara,  BCGEU Vice President, Health Services Component 4

Wendy Mah, BCGEU OH&S Officer         

Sean Antrim,  BCGEU Staff Representative

July 28, 2016

2 Day Joint OHS Committee Training

"2 Day Joint OHS Committee Training" will be held on Tuesday August 9th and Wednesday August 10th. This course will be held at the BCGEU area office, 8555 - 198A Street
Langley from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm each day.

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

This course is limited to 22 seats so register early at (click on Learning on the Left Hand side of @Work Home Page) 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.

July 08, 2016

Region 4 Women's Conference


Register now for the BCGEU Region 4 Women’s Conference, September 23-24, 2016 in Prince George. The Conference is open to all BCGEU women in Areas 06, 10, 11 & 12.

The Conference commences on Friday evening at 7:00 pm at the Ramada Hotel, 444 George St., Prince George with a panel session which will include a dynamic group of guest speakers. The evening will wrap up with social with lights snacks and a cash bar.

The conference continues on Saturday, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm with a plenary session on "Women in the Union Movement" as well as participants taking part in workshops throughout the day.

Travel, leave of absence and accommodation, if required, are paid by the union. Space is limited so register early!


Download conference agenda

Download PDF of event notice


July 05, 2016

The BCGEU stands with Canada Post workers

Canada Post’s announcement that they will lock out Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) members as soon as Friday is an attack on collective bargaining, its workers and its customers.

Canada Post is refusing to do the work of collective bargaining with CUPW by demanding massive rollbacks on the union’s hard fought gains.

Those rollbacks include moving all new hires from a defined benefit pension plan, similar to those enjoyed by many BCGEU members, to a defined contribution savings plan. There is no need for this change, as postal workers’ current pension plan is self-funded, self-sustaining, and has a $1.2 billion surplus.

Despite what people may hear in the media, Canada Post has been profitable for the last two decades and is the largest parcel delivery company in Canada. There is no need to demand sweeping concessions from Canada Post workers.

CUPW members are fighting for gender equity in pay and benefits (rural carriers, who are mostly women, receive 28% less than their mostly male counterparts in urban areas) and against two-tiered agreements that would see younger members get substantially less than their older co-workers.

We encourage BCGEU members to show solidarity with CUPW members by supporting CUPW workers on their picket lockout lines and by contacting their MP to demand that Canada Post negotiate an agreement that treats all workers equitably. 

June 30, 2016

BCGEU presses Canadian Prime Minister on Mexican teacher repression

Since mid-May, Mexican teachers have launched a nation-wide protest against new government measures that seek to shut down teacher (normal) training schools, base continued employment on teachers’ results on standardized written exams, and eliminate the need for pedagogical training for new teachers. The government’s response has been a wave of violence that includes the abduction and arbitrary detention of teacher union leaders, the firing of eight thousand teachers, and violent attacks on teacher and parent protests, which reached their worst point in Oaxaca on June 19 when security forces opened fire on protesters, killing 8 and wounding at least 45.

Working with CoDevelopment Canada, the BCGEU wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to press the Mexican Prime Minister on their government's human rights record during the summit in Ottawa at the end of June.

Read the letter here. 

June 29, 2016

Working Poverty in Metro Vancouver: the extent of the problem and realistic s...

Today the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released a study on poverty in Vancouver. The report, Working Poverty in Metro Vancouver, presents sobering details on the increasing levels of poverty in the region. It also dispels an important myth about poverty: that getting a job will help lift a person out of poverty.

Poverty in B.C.’s largest city is increasingly a story of low paid and precarious work. Many of the jobs created since the recession of 2008 are part-time, temporary and low paid. Metro Vancouver’s otherwise strong economy increasingly relies upon these workers in security, catering, cleaning and other services.

Toronto and Vanouver have the highest working poverty rates in the country. Making the lives of the working poor even more difficult, they also have the highest costs of living in the country.

In Metro Vancouver in 2012:

  • Just over half (54 per cent) of the working poor were married or living common law
  • 42 per cent had dependent children
  • 24 per cent were between the ages of 18 and 29

The CCPA’s report presents a way forward, and suggests several measures that can begin to eliminate working poverty. Detailed policy recommendations include raising the minimum wage, strengthening employment standards, creating affordable housing, providing high quality childcare, and other changes and investments in our social infrastructure. These are investments that are long overdue. They should be made now.

Click here to read Working Poverty in Metro Vancouver.